NAPLES – In years past, The Immokalee Foundation (TIF) has sponsored a college tour to introduce Immokalee High School students and their chaperones to a selection of Florida’s colleges and universities. During the trip, students learned about each school’s academic offerings and specialties, scholarships, clubs and organizations, and where to go for academic support.
Many of the campus visits also included a personal touch, with The Immokalee Foundation’s postsecondary students guiding their school’s tour and answering the high school students’ questions.
Although the annual trip wasn’t possible this year due to the pandemic, the tradition continued with an innovative new format. The Immokalee Foundation’s High School Services Manager Marisol Sanders reached out to several of the foundation’s college students to record a vlog, or video blog, representing a typical day on campus.
Seven postsecondary students submitted videos, including Hector Ramirez from University of Florida; William Plata and Marthe Auguste from University of Central Florida; Nicolas Turrubiartez from Florida Southwestern State College; Noah Garcia and Shirley Vilsaint from Florida Gulf Coast University; and Sandra Garcia from Ave Maria University.
The Immokalee Foundation invited its high school students to the College Vlog Night screening earlier this month, complete with pizza and snacks, in a safe outdoor setting.
“In each of the vlogs, students shared their experiences and struggles and gave a real-life account of what college really looks like today,” said Sanders. “The high school students brought their own chairs and blankets and took notes from each of the videos.”
Ramirez brought students on a virtual tour of the University of Florida campus, explained the different types of housing available, and outlined a typical class schedule. As a UF senior, he also reflected on his college experience and offered some sound advice.
“When it comes to independence, you have to go above your responsibilities and see how to balance that throughout your college career,” said Ramirez, a telecommunication major. “You can also find extracurricular things to do for your career, to help with your resume. It’s also okay to get out of your comfort zone to do other stuff that you believe will help you in the future. There are a bunch of opportunities here, so take advantage of that.”
Florida Gulf Coast University sophomore Vilsaint, who is studying health science, focused on campus resources during her vlog. She pointed out informational bulletin boards and the advising office where students can get answers to questions about their major and schedule.
“You can also go to the library to catch up on your reading,” Vilsaint said, demonstrating the computer work stations that are ideal for completing assignments in a quiet environment.
She continued recording as she hopped on the campus’ Eagle Express shuttle to get a ride back to her apartment in the Honors College Living-Learning Community. Vlog viewers also accompanied her to a socially distanced evening event on campus hosted by the Black Student Assembly.
Auguste, a junior majoring in actuarial science at University of Central Florida, began her vlog with advice about the college application process.
“Start your applications early, as soon as they open,” she said, explaining how to request an application fee waiver and when to take the SAT. She also shared her method of planning her schedule ahead of time each week to help keep her class assignments organized.
The Immokalee Foundation’s high school-aged students enjoyed watching the vlogs and appreciated the insights on college life.
“Overall, I got a lot of good advice – every point of view was good, because now I actually know what college students go through and it will help me prepare for the future,” said Esmeralda P., a junior.
Junior Wendy H. added, “I really enjoyed this experience and the outdoor area where it was held. The vlogs by the students explained their campus life really well.”
Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, said that despite the change from the traditional format, the event’s goals remained the same.
“Through our college night presentation, we helped our students envision the transition to greater independence and the possibility of living away from their Immokalee homes in pursuit of their educational goals,” said Perez.
To view samples from the College Vlog Night, please visit The Immokalee Foundation’s Facebook page.
The Immokalee Foundation 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.