Immokalee High School’s Class of 2020 faced enormous challenges along the way – Hurricane Irma, COVID-19 and everything in between.
Graduating from high school certainly is a milestone worth celebrating, but I’m already looking toward the future.
In August, I will have an opportunity to become the first person in my family to attend college. For my parents, college simply wasn’t a possibility. My father comes from generations of farmworkers and my mother’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.
I am fortunate to have this opportunity because of Guadalupe Center, which has been such an important part of my life over the past four years. Honestly, I do not know where I would be right now if I did not decide to apply for a spot in the Tutor Corps Program during my freshman year.
Through Tutor Corps, I have learned so much from workshops, like how to prepare for college and careers, apply for scholarships and study for tests. Tutor Corps also provided me with a job tutoring students in kindergarten, first and second grades. Beyond just earning money for college, the program also allowed me to learn two very important characteristics that will help me going forward – patience and responsibility. I absolutely love being able to be a mentor and serve as a role model to younger students, and also have learned so much through volunteering in the community.
In addition to help from the staff at Guadalupe Center, I also was provided a mentor, Jacquie McIntyre. She means the world to me and my family. On top of being my mentor, Jacquie has also become a family member. I look up to her and truly value every piece of advice she gives me.
Now that I am a graduate of Immokalee High School, I’m ready for the next step – majoring in nursing at the University of Toledo with an ultimate career goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.
Many students have the desire and talent to attend college, but two things often keep higher education from becoming a reality – guidance and financial resources. Jacquie is from Ohio, and her support and encouragement convinced me to leave home for college and experience a different environment. Through the Sandy and Roger Vasey Scholarship at Guadalupe Center, I will be able to pay for many of my college expenses over the next four years.
None of this would have been possible without Guadalupe Center. The entire organization – staff members, volunteers, donors and board members – wants to see students succeed, but they also want to see Immokalee as a whole succeed.
Being the first person in my family to attend college is such an honor. I have been given so many opportunities and learned so much during the last four years, and this experience has made me into the young woman I am today.
About the Author
Araceli Anzualda is a 2020 graduate of Immokalee High School and Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program. She will be attending the University of Toledo in the fall.