by Noemi Y. Perez
Dorm life. Financial concerns. Time management.
Postsecondary students face a number of obstacles on their road to higher learning. All too often, the sechallenges can derail even the most promising college or technical school plans. The numbers speak volumes: In Florida, only 40% of students in the state college system will graduate. By contrast, 92% of students receiving postsecondary scholarships and support from The Immokalee Foundation will earn a college degree or complete technical school. Advance preparation, communication, ongoing support and access to resources make the difference.
“We follow our students through their college journey,” said Paulina Magaña, postsecondary services manager at The Immokalee Foundation. “Our students are scattered throughout Florida, the nation and a couple are currently studying abroad. They know we expect to hear from them; they are required to communicate with us. We want to make sure they’re doing well in their classes and applying themselves to any work-based learning experience.”
Postsecondary preparation begins just weeks after high school graduation. Students attend a mandatory four-day boot camp in the summer before their Freshman year and a two-day follow-up workshop in December during winter break. Upperclassmen can also attend.
The intense programs cover situations students are likely to encounter as they take ownership of their time, class attendance and, in some cases, living away from home for the first time. No topic is off limits. Sex education, mental health, equity on campus, declaring a major, relationships, financial literacy, stress management and staying motivated are presented by local experts.
“It’s so important to prepare students for adulthood and the topics they’ll be exposed to as part of college life,” said Magaña, “The workshops help students understand how what they do and the choices they make will impact this next chapter of their lives. We want our students to have the resources and confidence they need to succeed.”
The December workshops serve as a refresher and an opportunity to reconnect with students. Topics for the session are determined by surveys following the summer boot camp. Students are also encouraged to share their questions anonymously.
“I joined The Immokalee Foundation because I wanted to benefit from their scholarship and mentoring program,” said Natalia Garcia Lopez, alumna of The Immokalee Foundation. “My mentors have encouraged me and guided me throughout high school and are continuing to do so now that I am in college. From the postsecondary program, I have learned how to be financially responsible while at Florida Gulf Coast University. My parents can’t contribute to my college expenses, but luckily The Immokalee Foundation provided me with the tools I need to be able to apply for scholarships and stay motivated to earn my nursing degree.”
The Immokalee Foundation, celebrating its 30th anniversary, empowers children and young adults to change their lives through education and job opportunities. The foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence.
To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit ImmokaleeFoundation.org.
Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at email@example.com.