The World and Careers Over the Summer – The Immokalee Foundation Students

by Steven Kissinger


Several students in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs ventured far from their small agricultural town over the summer for study abroad experiences in Germany, Italy, Russia and the Dominican Republic. Still others left for the big city – or big university – for educational experiences.

Now home again, they described these times as the best of their lives, leaving “a profound impact” for many years. Through the University of South Florida-sponsored “USF in Russia” program, Jose Flores studied Russian language and culture for a month. Flores enrolled in an intensive Russian language course at Moscow State University, the top university in Russia. As part of another course, Flores visited the Armoury museum inside the Kremlin, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, and the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, among other sites.

Nadege Severe participated in an exchange program offered by the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University. Severe traveled to Wurzburg, Germany, and took advanced software classes. While there, Severe gained experience in an internship that included in-country travel and classes with a global software company.

Emmanuel Vega Arreola visited seven cities in Italy during a month in early summer in an art and history program offered by the honors college at Florida International University.

“We compared how the Roman Empire impacts life in the United States today,” Arreola said. “We also learned about the Italian culture and the perspective and values that local people live by. We visited the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, where I had the opportunity to see the Pope. My whole trip was an incredible experience, and the biggest lesson I learned is that the human mind and human body are capable of accomplishing great things.

”Junette Desrosier spent 10 days in the Dominican Republic on a medical mission trip, where she shadowed physicians and took patients’ vital signs. During the Hope International program, her unique skills were put to work translating.

Alfredo Villalobos-Perez knew he wanted to pursue a medical career but was unsure of the direction. While participating in a program at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City from early June to mid-August, Villalobos-Perez spent time in both research and patient care. He found his career answer in a question posed by one of the university deans: “Do you want to treat the disease that is affecting the patient, or do you want to treat the patient that is being affected by the disease?”

Villalobos-Perez shadowed doctors, observed surgery and attended patient rounds.  Assisting in patient care gave him his answer, and he intends to become a physician.

Villalobos-Perez showed the initiative and drive of so many Take Stock in Children students. He wanted even more experience shadowing doctors after his prescribed time at Mount Sinai. He combed the Mount Sinai website for medical department heads, found 85, and sent emails. Fifteen responded and granted him time in departments including adult nephrology, children’s nephrology, emergency medicine, breast surgery, pediatric pulmonology and neonatal care.

Angel Mateo and Elizay Perez Bravo spent a week at the University of Missouri’s Trulaske Business Academy.

“The academy showed me the opportunities I can pursue through a business career,” Mateo said. “It brought together many students from different backgrounds and immersed the group into the business world. I met students with similar interests and was able to build strong bonds coast to coast.”

Perez Bravo noted the different atmospheres at places of business the group toured in the fields of insurance, accounting, marketing and more.

Opening global doors to students of The Immokalee Foundation helps create pathways to success.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, 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

Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

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