Program alumni and volunteers motivate new generation of Latino high school students
Last week more than 200 volunteers traveled to the campus of Virginia State University from July 20-23 to mentor the 159 participants of this year’s Virginia Hispanic Youth Institute (HYI) Kick-Off. The program motivates local Latino high school students to pursue a college degree and become professionals who give back to their communities. Students from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Maryland, and even Michigan, participated in the program and will now enroll in year-round programming designed to help them progress towards their college and career goals.
Melissa Martinez, a participant in the 2011 Virginia Hispanic Youth Institute, says that choosing to attend this year was a rewarding decision.
“When I came to the Hispanic Youth Institute I had little hope of making it to college, but I’ve found the confidence and motivation now. I don’t just want to go to college, I know I’m going to college now; it’s not a closed door and I can make it,” said Melissa Martinez, a rising junior at South Lakes High School. “Everyone in this Institute has taught me that you can never give up. The opportunity is always there but you have to want it. You must fight for what you want no matter how hard it may get. I’ve grown to be confident and to become a stronger leader, not just for other people but for myself.”
Of the159 high school students who attended this year’s Virginia HYI Kick Off, 93 percent say they now agree with the statement, “I am going to college.” 50 percent affirm “I am going to pursue a career in business, health care or STEM fields.”
Nationwide, more than 4,000 students have graduated from the Hispanic Youth Institute. Of these, data predicts that 75 percent will have earned a college degree within six years of their high school graduation and more than 50 percent will purse professional careers high-need fields such as engineering, health care, and business.
The Hispanic College Fund expects to reach nearly 900 students, parents and adult volunteers through the Virginia Hispanic Youth Institute and over 7,000 nationwide during the summer and the 2011-2012 academic year.
“The Virginia Hispanic Youth Institute is in its eighth year and still going strong. We are seeing really positive results from the students’ experience,” says Daniel Sarmiento, HCF’s director of the Hispanic Youth Institute, Virginia. “The change in the students during the program is incredible. Many students arrive at the program with a mentality that college isn’t possible for them. But by the end of the program they transform their own self-perception and are equipped with the tools to make college a reality.”
“The mobilization of community volunteers and sponsors helps create an authentic supportive environment that allows the students to transform their long-term trajectory towards college,” added Benjamin Thorpe, HCF’s development director of eastern states. “Because of the generous time, resources, and financial contributions of sponsors and community partners, we are able to educate another group of young Hispanics who will create change in their communities and beyond.”
A number of corporations and community organizations partnered with the Hispanic College Fund to make this year’s Hispanic Youth Institute possible.
Community partners of the 2011 Virginia Hispanic Youth Institute include: Virginia State University, HSBC’s Hispanic Latin Diversity Committee (HLDC) Bank of America’s Hispanic-Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA), the Social Security Administration’s Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council (HAAC), the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Koshland Science Museum.
Sponsors of the 2011 Virginia Hispanic Youth Institute include: The Dow Corning Foundation, Marriott Foundation, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Dominion Resources, Genworth Foundation, MeadWestvaco Foundation, Raytheon, Deval LLC, Google, and SC&H Tax Advisory Group.
National sponsors include: Bank of America, Darden Restaurants Foundation, National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Social Security Administration.
To get updates on HCF programs in Virginia, visit www.Facebook.com/HCF.Virginia.