IMMOKALEE — Immokalee Foundation student Joel Guerrero has been named a Leaders 4 Life Fellow by Take Stock in Children. The Leaders 4 Life Fellowship comes with a $40,000 scholarship that pays for college expenses not covered by any other award or financial aid, including leadership training and development, housing, food, textbooks, supplies, transportation and other college-related expenses.
“The Leaders 4 Life Fellowship is meant to reward hard working students like Joel,” said Mark Asofsky, Managing Director of Asofsky Family Foundation. “Joel is one of only about 80 fellows to receive this award since its founding in 2010. In addition to the funds that help cover educational and personal growth expenses, Joel is also receiving a tight knit community of scholars who will help support and encourage him throughout his educational journey.”
The statewide mentoring, college success and college scholarship organization, Take Stock in Children (TSIC) partners with the Asofsky Family Foundation each year for the Leaders 4 Life program. The mission of the fellowship program is to enable highly motivated TSIC scholars from around the state who have demonstrated strong leadership skills, moral character and academic success to excel in a university environment by providing them with the tools and resources necessary to empower them to develop to their fullest potential.
Joel, a current senior at Immokalee High School, will attend Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall and plans to pursue a graduate degree to become a dentist. “This award is a huge honor. I plan to use the funds from the Leaders 4 Life Fellowship to pay for mission trips to South and Central America to give back and explore my interest in dentistry more,” he said. “My mom is a dental hygienist and growing up, she would bring me to the office, and I fell in love with dentistry. Ever since I was a child, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I plan on getting my degree and coming back to Immokalee to serve my hometown and the community that has given and taught me so much.”
The goal of the program is to eliminate the financial burdens normally associated with a university education and to allow the fellows to devote 100% of their attention to their studies and personal development.
“Our programs at The Immokalee Foundation help unlock each child’s potential, and transforms them into the leaders of tomorrow,” said Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “We are so proud of the hard work and dedication shown by Joel and are grateful to Take Stock in Children for our partnership and our ability to provide our students access to incredible opportunities like the Leaders 4 Life Fellowship.”
Jerry Belle, Chairman of the Board for The Immokalee Foundation has been Joel’s mentor since he was in 7th grade. “Watching Joel grow and mature over the past six years has been an honor,” said Belle. “I’ve watched him grow into a confident young man and a diligent student. Not only is Joel a model student, he is a leader in the youth group of his church where he applies the leadership skills that he has learned at home, in high school and through The Immokalee Foundation. Joel is so deserving of this honor and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Each year, more than 100 of Take Stock in Children’s top students from across Florida apply for the Leaders 4 Life fellowship program. Following a highly competitive selection process, 12 high school seniors are chosen as finalists for this prestigious honor, and only six are selected as Leaders 4 Life Fellows. Joel is only the second student in the history of The Immokalee Foundation to receive this award, the first being Giselle Nava in 2020.
“Joel has what it takes to be a Take Stock in Children Leaders 4 Life Fellow,” said Yeimi Espinoza, Take Stock in Children Program Manager at The Immokalee Foundation. “He truly exhibits everything that this award represents: strong leadership skills, unique moral character, and high-achieving academic success. ”
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