UnidosNow celebrates first-generation students at its Future Leaders Academies graduation

All 15 graduating seniors accepted at colleges

 On May 25, more than 50 young participants in UnidosNow’s Future Leaders Academies program were acknowledged for their academic successes during an event at the Harvest House’s Life Enrichment Campus in Sarasota, UnidosNow has announced.

UnidosNow Executive Director Cintia Elenstar reported that, of the group, the 15 high school seniors all have been accepted by colleges or universities; they collectively earned approximately $4.5 million in scholarships and grants, a news release notes. The graduates will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wake Forest University, the University of Portland, the University of Florida, New College, the University of South Florida, Ringling College of Art + Design, and the State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota, among other schools, the release adds.

“The Future Leaders Academy (FLA) is a rigorous year-round program offered primarily to low-income, first-generation Latinx high school students and their families in Sarasota and Manatee counties,” the release explains.

The UnidosNow event brought together community partners and mentors to recognize and applaud students of all ages who participate in the Future Leaders Academies program, the release adds. “Several students and parents provided personal testimonials about how UnidosNow and the Future Leaders Academies program have positively impacted their lives,” the release notes.

“ ‘UnidosNow assisted me in achieving its slogan: “To dream big!” I have been empowered by the UnidosNow team to seek a degree in computer science studies, and I will be participating in the University of Florida’s Gator Engineering Program,’ ” explained one student, identified in the release as Ariem P., a graduating senior from Sarasota High School.

“Norma C., the parent of an elementary student in the FLA program, told the audience that it has not been easy for ‘immigrants like us to start over in another country,’ ” the release continues. “ ‘There are many cultural and linguistic barriers,’ ” she said. “ ‘But thanks to UnidosNow, my family and I have been discovering the opportunities available to us for integrating into this community.’ ”

“The event also celebrated alumni who have graduated from college, as well as past FLA graduates who are enrolled in college and work as college coaches for the current cohort of high schoolers,” the release points out.

The UnidosNow funders are the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Bank of America, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation, the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, the Manatee Community Foundation, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, The Bishop Parker Foundation, the Cook Family Foundation, the Evalyn Sadlier Foundation, the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, the Scheidel Foundation, and the Louis & Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust,” the release says.

To learn more about UnidosNow and the Future Leader’s Academy, visit https://unidosnow.org/ or email info@unidosnow.org.