Guadalupe Center prepares students for college, cold weather

Guadalupe Center

Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program has amassed some astounding statistics – a 100% high school graduation rate, 100% college attendance rate and 94% college completion rate.

The program offers guidance in college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance. It also provides wages for tutoring younger students, money that certainly helps cover college expenses.

The 28 students in Tutor Corps’ Class of 2020 earned a combined $3.7 million in scholarship and grant awards. Among the class are 12 students who were the first in their families to graduate high school and 17 who are their first in their families to attend college. Eleven are pursuing degrees at Florida institutions, while the other 17 are enrolled at universities in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.

For the past four years, dedicated teachers and staff at Guadalupe Center and Immokalee High School have been preparing Tutor Corps students for college. However, the curriculum doesn’t prepare students for living in a cold climate. That’s why each summer, as students are packing for college, Guadalupe Center brings the teenagers to Guadalupe Resale Shop in North Naples for a back-to-school shopping trip while also demonstrating how donations and sales at the Resale Shop support academic programs. Students are allowed to pick out 10 items, each priced up to $40, at no cost. This year’s students selected jeans, sweaters, blouses, blazers, dress shirts and pants, ties, shoes and accessories. Any additional items are 75% off the ticketed price.

Araceli Anzualda, who is attending University of Toledo in Ohio, picked out several winter items, as well as clothing she can wear during the fall. The shopping trip was especially valuable given this year’s events.

“It’s been really hard to go to the store since most of them have been closed for half the summer,” Araceli said. “I’m so grateful for Guadalupe Center.”

Jamie Ozuna, who is enrolled at St. John’s University in Minnesota, also used the opportunity to stock up on warm clothing, picking out long-sleeved shirts and a new tie for when he attends events requiring business attire. He essentially is starting over in a new environment 1,800 miles from home.

“My expectation is to meet a lot of new people, make a lot of new connections and just have new opportunities that I wouldn’t have here,” Jamie said.

Whether it’s the Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program or Tutor Corps Program, Guadalupe Center is focused on creating endless possibilities. The nonprofit’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

I am living proof of that mission. Neither of my parents graduated high school – one works as a farmworker and the other is a custodian. The importance of education that parents stressed, combined with the assistance from Guadalupe Center, put me where I am today. Because of Guadalupe Center, myself and my three brothers are now all college graduates and working in our careers of choice.

– By Daniel Martinez, high school coordinator for Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program