Blog | UnidosNow

Neil Comber shares his reflection on why he became a mentor

“As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I have long appreciated the value of a college degree. Coming from Mexico, it served me well to open doors to a successful global business career.

What is different today for students is that the application process is much more complex and competitive. When I met with Luz, I quickly signed up to be a mentor. Part of the reason was I was so impressed with the comprehensive process at UnidosNow.

In my experience, it as unmatched in its ability to help Latino students understand that college is necessary, and help them take the steps to make it a reality for them.

Once I started, I found my students to be eager and open to receiving help. For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to give advice, motivate and encourage. All of them are from immigrant families with all the attendant difficulties of living in a foreign land and having to assimilate. When I heard that each of them had been accepted to college, I felt a huge sense of pride and super excited for their futures.

I will definitely mentor again. The experience with UnidosNow has shown me that while my one-on-one coaching with my students may have only been a little ‘granito de arena’ (grain of sand) in the process, it is so important to help these young people take a very big step in their journey of success in life. Anything I can do to help in their journey is worth the time and commitment. Enhorabuena to all the students and their families who embrace this journey.”

We are grateful to Neil Comber for mentoring three students that have been successful in their college attainment. We are still in the process of recruiting new mentors. We hope you will consider mentoring a student this year. Please do contact Luz Corcuera if you feel inclined to help: luz@unidosnow.org or call (941) 840-0266.

Gabrielle Barroso, Volunteer of the Month

Our volunteer of the month is our scholar Gabrielle Barroso. She is a senior at Sarasota Military Academy and, in addition to her high school diploma, will be receiving her AA degree.

Gabrielle is an exceptional young woman and, as one of our ambassadors, has accompanied our Executive Director Luz Corcuera to community meetings and schools providing inspirational presentations to peers and community partners. She has assisted students in Sarasota and Manatee with FAFSA applications and helps the UnidosNow team with community fairs at schools and in the community.

Gabrielle is the President of the UnidosNow High School Club at Sarasota Military Academy. In addition to her academic load, she holds leadership positions with the JROTC.  She has been accepted into several universities and has decided to join the University of Florida with the goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon one day.  She is also the recipient of the Comcast Scholarship and just finished serving as a juror for the first time.

We are proud of Gabrielle’s accomplishments and grateful for her volunteer work.

Presentation at Just For Girls

Our Executive Director Luz Corcuera and our scholar Leslye Trujillo were invited to Just For Girls in Palmetto to dialogue with middle school students about opportunities and options to pursue higher education.

The students were engaged and inspired by Leslye, who is a high school senior and has set her mind and efforts to pursue a career in medicine.


Financial Aid Through FAFSA

FAFSA labs are still happening in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Last month UnidosNow assisted students and their families at Bayshore High School, North Port High, and the Boys & Girls Club.

Bayshore High School organized the last FAFSA lab for the 2017 class. Mrs. Roberts, the Career counselor, hosted the event that convened several families. Financial aid officers from theUniversity of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the State College of Florida,  along with UnidosNow staff and members of Bayshore High’s UnidosNow Club, helped families to fill out their FAFSA application.

Leadership in Practice

We are extremely proud of the scholars that have taken the lead as officers of the UnidosNow High School Clubs. They have been offering workshops, assisting their peers with FAFSA applications and, in some of schools, working on fundraising events for a college tour. The Palmetto High club is planning a trip to visit Florida State University in Tallahassee.

New Addition to the Board

UnidosNow is delighted to announce that a new member is joining our Board of Directors: Amy K. Kenyon has accepted to serve on the board and we welcome her willingness to contribute to the improvement of opportunities for the Latino community in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

As a consumer attorney, her career has been spent educating the public on a broad range of financial matters and empowering people to pursue a more stable financial future.

Her knowledge and experience will prepare students for reaching long-term educational goals that result in pride and prosperity, in the individual leader, and in the Latino community.

The Families Together Program Is In Gear

Tuttle Elementary

Class during Spring break with Rachel Quirk, our ESOL teacher, at a local restaurant. Practicing their vocabulary while communicating with servers.

UnidosNow, with the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County‘s 2Gen, continues to improve its Families Together Program that began at Tuttle Elementary School offering twice a week sessions for parents. The first group will be graduating this month. More news to come.

Gocio Elementary

Building on the success of the program at Tuttle Elementary we are now implementing our Families Together program at Gocio Elementary.  Parents are meeting twice a week to learn English, life skills, and tools to understand the challenges and rewards of raising children in a bi-cultural and bi-lingual environment.

Booker Middle School

Thanks to the support of the United Way Suncoast, UnidosNow is beginning to implement its successful Families Together program at Booker Middle School, offering Latino families the tools they need to navigate through the education system, learn English and life skills, and empower their children early on to pursue higher education. In addition, parents will be able to access programs offered by Career Edge at the United Way Resource Center at Booker Middle School.

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