SARASOTA, Fla. (June 11, 2019) – USF Sarasota-Manatee is opening its doors this week to local high school students from the Future Leaders Academy, a program run by the nonprofit organization UnidosNow that helps Hispanic/Latino students gain entry into college.
For two weeks, mentors and admissions counselors will meet daily with about two dozen students to work on their college admissions applications, resumes and admissions essays in an effort to gain acceptance to the colleges of their choice and earn scholarships and other financial aid.
The Future Leaders program has become a regular feature at USFSM after the spring semester winds down and students leave for the summer. The campus has hosted the group for the past five years.
“We’re thrilled to welcome UnidosNow and excited to assist this exceptional program in any way,” USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook said. “It is a privilege to play a part in helping these young students on their pathway to becoming accepted into college and achieving their dreams. While some of the students may ultimately attend college elsewhere when they graduate, many could end up choosing USF and this campus, in particular, so this poses a special benefit to us as well.”
Luz Corcuera, executive director of UnidosNow, said the organization was founded in 2010 to assist the Hispanic community through “education, integration and civic engagement.” The Future Leaders Academy focuses on rising juniors and seniors just as they begin to consider college careers. A handful of rising sophomores may also participate in the program. All of the students attend high schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
“We are very appreciative of the ongoing partnership we have with USFSM,” Corcuera said. “Our students love being on this beautiful campus and they enjoy the guided college tour and opportunity to speak with admissions and financial aid representatives. They are pleasantly surprised to learn about the different careers and support services the campus has to offer and to speak with faculty members.”
The students will spend the next week on campus. In addition to helping with admissions forms, resumes and student essays, UnidosNow routinely organizes college tours around the state, including at USF and USFSM, and conducts mock interviews and other programs. The organization hosts speakers to inspire the students to focus on their grades, as well. Its educational programs are presented throughout the year.
The result, says Corcuera, is that a surprising number of students have ended up at such prestigious institutions as Cornell, Vassar, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Many have also opted for USF and USFSM, citing the schools’ academic programs, research initiatives, proximity to home and attention from professors and staff.
UnidosNow hosts other programs at USFSM, as well. Next month, the campus will welcome 25 girls to its teaching labs at the Mote Marine Laboratory as part of a program about microplastics.
Associate Director of Admissions Brandon Avery said USFSM is happy to accommodate the organization.
“It is a true pleasure to work alongside UnidosNow with this program,” he said. “It allows us a unique opportunity to reach out to our community and help students achieve their goals.”