NAPLES – Forty-four Immokalee High School students visited five Florida colleges and universities in three days during a tour sponsored by The Immokalee Foundation (TIF).
Students and their chaperones traveled to Tampa on the first day to visit Hillsborough Community College - Brandon Campus and the University of South Florida. Day two in Gainesville included visits to Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. The final day included a tour at Florida State University in Tallahassee before the group returned home to Immokalee.
An annual event for qualifying high school juniors, the tour allows students to learn about each school’s academic offerings and specialties, scholarships, clubs and organizations, best spots for dining and socializing, and where to go for help, including research, tutoring and writing centers.
Before the trip, students received information about each school, including popular majors, median grade point averages, campus size and population, and other facts. Visiting the colleges gave the students a better understanding of the locations and personalities of each school.
“The size of the campuses and the student populations were important,” said Stephanie Ortiz, a senior at Immokalee High School who will be an early admission student at Florida SouthWestern State College next year. Enrolled in TIF programs since seventh grade, Ortiz was particularly excited to see Florida State University, her “dream school” where she wants to pursue emergency medicine.
At some campuses, the students were escorted by college students from Immokalee who also participated in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs, which gave the tours a personal touch. “The fact that our guides came from the same community and circumstances was helpful,” Ortiz said.
Maria Reyes, TIF healthcare pathway coordinator, observed that taking the tour helped the students begin to imagine the transition to greater independence – and the possibility of living away from their Immokalee homes in pursuit of their educational goals.
TIF provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.