By Dawn Montecalvo, President of the Guadalupe Center
Two longtime supporters of the Guadalupe Center have established an annual program to send Immokalee High School students on college exploration trips every summer. Bunny and Charles Salisbury, generous supporters and volunteers of the Guadalupe Center since 2006, have established the E.G. Salisbury Tutor Corps Summer Academy. Rising juniors and seniors in Guadalupe Center’s college preparatory program will be sent this summer on expense-paid college visits to participate in academic programs ranging from two to six weeks in duration. “This is a fantastic opportunity for these students to complete an extended college orientation program, see the layout of a college campus, talk to students and staff, and even sit in on some college classes,” said Jorge Perez, Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps college coordinator. “Most college orientation tours only last a few hours, so they’ll get to experience what it’s really like to be a college student.” Tutor Corps students had an opportunity to meet Bunny and Charles Salisbury at a formal kickoff reception in May held at the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee. Guadalupe Center staff also outlined the academy program and courses of study, and distributed college gear and travel bags to each student. Through the program, students will be visiting top colleges and universities across the country, including Brown, Connecticut, Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Pennsylvania, Union, Villanova and others. Academic programs cover a variety of college life experiences in addition to specific topics like business, medicine, leadership, engineering and other potential college majors. “Our students lack the financial resources to take these out-of-area college exploration trips, so the Summer Academy is providing an opportunity for them to see college campuses, attend classes, explore possible majors and meet one-on-one with university representatives,” Perez said. “Where you attend college, and what major you choose, is a huge decision in their lives. Bunny and Charles’ commitment to the Tutor Corps program ensures students aren’t making those decisions solely based on brochures and website content.” Tutor Corps student Christian Soriano-Reyes will be traveling to Syracuse University for a program covering forensic science. He is hoping to use the summer trip to help decide future career and college options, and is especially grateful to the Saliburys for funding the program. “They are helping to better the life of teenagers from an impoverished town by allowing them to get a glimpse of what the world has in store for them,” said Soriano-Reyes. Charles Salisbury served as a Guadalupe Center trustee from 2007 to 2013, and Bunny Salisbury has been a trustee since 2014. Bunny also is a founding member of Guadalupe Center’s Advisory Board, is a three-time event chairwoman and helped form and fund the successful Tutor Corps program. Charles established the Summer Academy program in 2017 to honor his wife of 52 years. Karen Reyes-Santos will be attending a three-week academic program at Brown University, where she hopes to discover potential career opportunities and learn more about herself. It will be the first time she’s been on an airplane or away from her family for more than a few days. She’s spoken with other Tutor Corps students who rave about the summer program. “They tell me that it is an experience that I will never forget, that I will grow and realize parts of myself that I didn’t know before, and overall that it will be so much fun and one of the most enriching experience I could have,” Reyes-Santos said. Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. The Summer Academy is a key component of Tutor Corps, a college preparatory program that has a 100 percent success rate for college admissions. Tutor Corps students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, and each student is matched with an adult mentor to offer guidance and support. Guadalupe Center Tutor Corps team members also offer guidance on the college application, scholarship and financial aid processes, as well as SAT and ACT prep.