Education Archives | 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.

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.

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.

Riverview High School Special FLA Celebration

UnidosNow and Riverview High celebrate the acceptance of eight students into the 2017 Future Leaders Academy, three juniors and five sophomores. They were among approximately 50 talented students selected from throughout the region.

Thanks to the support of the United Way Suncoast, UnidosNow is able to provide college prep and FAFSA assistance to students at Riverview High.

We thank Deb Piner, college counselor, and the administration for their partnership and support.

From left to right.  Santiago Uribe, Ruby Vila (ESOL coordinator), Hector Tejeda (UnidosNow), Alexis Cejas Carbonell, Jonathan Bruzon, Bridget Coughlin (Guidance Counselor, UnidosNow mentor), Gabriella Hernandez, Nick Sanchez, Alex Celas, Angela Rodriguez, Beth Sheets (IB Advisor), Allison Zavala, and Wendy Barroso (UnidosNow).

Welcome New Scholars

UnidosNow would like to welcome students accepted into the 2017 Future Leaders Academy. There were a record number of applicants this year, making it very challenging to make final selections. Accepted students came from many different backgrounds but had one thing in common, an intense desire to challenge themselves and go to the best college possible.

We are particularly proud of the diversity of high schools represented by this year’s class, with virtually every high school in the region being represented.  Thanks to the many schools and community partners who assisted in identifying these students and encouraging them to apply; the lives of these students are about to be transformed, and we couldn’t have done it without our collaborators.

Reaching Higher

Our Future Leaders Academy students are making us prouder and prouder every day.

  • Jorge Serrano, a senior at Palmetto High School has received the Army ROTC Scholarship. This scholarship will cover all his college costs, from his freshman year through graduation. He wants to pursue a career in the medical field.
  • Jorge Hernandez accompanied our Executive Director to give a presentation to the Manatee Community Foundation Manatee Matches Circle and impressed the donors with his story. Hernandez was given a scholarship of $1,000 from an anonymous donor and also received a laptop donated by a generous donor to send him to college on his way to becoming a veterinarian.

  • Ten fortunate UnidosNow scholars were provided a scholarship to attend ACT preparation classes at USF-Sarasota Manatee. We are grateful to the William Stark  Foundation and Jo-Ann Hillman for their generous support.

  • More college acceptances for our students:

Diamante Luna: Agnes Scott College, Stephens College.

Karen Cruz: University of South Florida.

Freddy Orjuela: University of Central Florida, Wheaton College.

Lorenzo Dubrocq: University of Miami, Rochester Institute of Technology, Lehigh University, Boston University, Colgate University.

Laura Orjuela: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Central Florida, Florida State University.




ACT Prep Class

Our students and sponsors understand the importance of preparing for the ACT, the standardized test many universities ask for from students in their applications. Since for many of our Future Leaders Academy scholars English is their second language, they feel compelled  to put forth more effort than the average student to make sure they obtain scores that  are competitive.

The first weekend in February, Ms. Anita Marcus, member of the Athena Giving Circles, gave her time to prepare our students for the ACT. During the weekend, our scholars received eight hours  of intensive preparation. On February 11th, the students took their ACT test and have markedly improved their scores. Thank you, Ms. Marcus, for your instrumental aid in getting our scholars to a new level.

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.