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Student Highlight

Alumnus Update: Tyler

After graduating from the Champions for Learning and Naples High School in 2017, Tyler decided to leave the Sunshine State for the Mountain State. Now he is in his senior year at West Virginia University majoring in Finance.

For Tyler, going to college was only a distant thought. Growing up in a single-parent home, he wasn’t really sure what steps he had to take or how to make college a possibility. Though Champions For Learning he joined the Take Stock in Children Program where he was paired with his mentor Bill Beynon. During his weekly lunch meetings with Beynon where their discussions ranged from the stock market to college planning, Tyler received the guidance he needed to reach his goals.

Tyler continues to lean on his mentor for guidance and advice, professionally and personally! Tyler has been able to intern with his mentor at Capital Wealth Management and hopes to follow in his footsteps and also be a financial advisor one day.

“My mentor has become one of my best friends, he has been able to guide me beyond my four years of high school and continues to be in my life,” said Tyler.

Despite COVID-19 Tyler has continued his internship virtually! He has been able to learn about wealth management and has had one on one experience with clients helping with their investment portfolios.

Campus involvement was key for Tyler in being able to give back in his campus community. Tyler quickly became involved in Greek life by rushing Sigma Nu where he is now the Vice President of his fraternity. Tyler also became involved in his Student Government Association and his Global Business Brigades Club as a translator.

“I am so thankful for Champions For Learning because it was through them that I was able to meet my mentor and learn how to take advantage of all of my opportunities. I learned the value of volunteering and giving back,” said Tyler.

 

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Alumnus Update: Tien

After graduating from Naples High School and the Champions For Learning program, Tien embarked on an educational journey that led him to places like Fiji, Peru, Ecuador, and Panama.

Tien is in his last year at the University of Florida finishing his degree in Agribusiness with a minor in disabilities in society. He will be continuing his education at the University of Miami pursuing his master’s degree in Aquaculture.

During his time at the University of Florida, Tien has been a part of the MEDLIFE group which gave him the opportunity to travel to both Ecuador and Peru. He also volunteered through the Global Business Brigades Club that led him to Panama. Through his Sustainability and EcoTourism class Tien had the chance to learn in Fiji as well.

Tien started as a Pre-med major, but on his MEDLIFE trip to Peru, he realized that he had another passion. His drive for business and longtime love for fishing led him to find the perfect combination of the two. Tien hopes to one day have a fish farm of his own.

His favorite learning opportunity came to him this past summer in midst of a pandemic! Tien had the opportunity to intern with Shimmick Construction in Long Beach, California, to help with the development of the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

“The best part about my internship is that I was able to strengthen my accounting skills that will be crucial in my future endeavors as a business leader,” said Tien.

Through Champions For Learning Tien was able to see all of the different opportunities that were available to him.

“Champions For Learning prepared me for a successful college experience and fostered a desire to give back to the community that has given me so much,” said Tien.

 

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Alumnus Update: Isis

Isis’s senior year at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School ended a little differently with COVID-19 changing the way that we socialize and communicate, but that did not stop Isis from reaching her goals.

“You have to look at the positive in every situation, even though my senior year may have ended differently, I still graduated from high school and doing school online allowed me to be with my family,” said Isis.

Although she did not get to walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma Isis said, “I’m proud of my community for celebrating the seniors this year and having a virtual graduation was very special, I’ll always have the video to look back on!”

Isis is majoring in Financial Management and has already started her first semester with Florida State University virtually, and will be heading to live on campus in August.

Isis wasn’t always so sure that college could be a possibility for her. She is the first in her family to attend college and didn’t know what resources were available for her, or if she could even afford to go to college.

In her junior year of high school, she applied to the College and Career Prep Program at Champions For Learning, with the help of her counselor. “Champions For Learning provided me with resources I never knew existed and every question that I had they had the answer,” said Isis.

“I learned how to plan financially for college, by applying for scholarships and filling out the FAFSA, the program made the possibility of going to college a reality,” said Isis.

Isis is looking forward to getting involved on campus and becoming part of her campus community by joining organizations like Women in Business. She also plans on getting involved in the community by interning in local non-profits.

“Through Champions For Learning my community made a huge impact in my life and I want to one day make a difference in the lives of others,” said Isis.

 

 

 

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Reflecting On My First Year Of College

College can be very intimidating especially for a first-generation college student. One of the first obstacles I encountered was orientation and registering for classes. I attended the second to last orientation, but to my surprise, I was still able to pick all the classes I wanted with no problems. I was prepared for the class selection process from being a dual enrollment student at Florida Southwestern prior to going to Florida International University. I was grateful for the time management and organizational skills that Champions for Learning helped me build to create the perfect schedule for me.

The next obstacle was housing. Champions for Learning made sure everyone was on top of their deadlines and requirements, so I was online selecting my room the moment it opened. I selected a room located on the second floor which meant the elevator ride would be quick and I could take the stairs if I did not want to wait. My room was also the closest to the communal kitchen and it was the best room on the whole floor besides the Residents Assistants.

Another challenge I faced during my first year was making friends, it was very difficult to get out and meet new people. It is challenging to find like-minded people as well as create meaningful friendships during such a busy time in life. But as I progress in my studies, I’ll continue meeting more new people.

The last major obstacle I faced this year was finding out my financial aid account had an error that caused me to have an unexpected balance. When I had heard this, I had no idea what it meant or that it was even possible. I had carefully budgeted my four years of college so that I knew down to the penny what was being covered. Thankfully, I had Champions for Learning just a phone call away to help me figure out what was going on. After all that panic the school agreed there was an error which was corrected, and I did not have to pay an unexpected charge.

There will always be unexpected obstacles looking to slow you down, but I am grateful that I have Champions for Learning always there to help me overcome them. The program taught me how to grow as a student and as a professional. The skills I learned such as writing a professional email or how to find help on campus I use everyday and I will continue to use them throughout my career. I feel as though I am always one step ahead and I have been gifted with valuable knowledge that I can share with not only my peers but with incoming college students who did not have the same opportunities I had.

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Congratulations Champions For Learning Class of 2020

Congratulations Seniors for all of your hard work and commitment as part of the Champions For Learning College and Career Preparation Program! We are so proud of all of your accomplishments. We thank the Seniors for their dedication and hard work and for being true champions!

 

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Inspired By Our Students

 Our community is proud of all of our students. During this time students have shown how quickly they can adapt to their new learning environment.


Students are attending their e- learning classrooms and are participating in their virtual labs through Champions For Learning. 12th grade virtual labs include college readiness, college cooking hacks, giving thanks, and decision day celebration. We are grateful for our students and the leadership that they have demonstrated.

Our students have continued to reach their goals, our 91 12th grade students to date have been accepted into 263 college and universities and have earned 71 scholarships totaling $3,508,332.

During this time our students have stayed flexible and have already shown how they are grateful in many ways.

“Doing work at home has made me more accountable and more independent.” – Ruby
“I appreciate my teachers being understanding and responding as fast as they can to us students!” – Isis
“ I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family during this time.” – Gabriella
“I appreciate being able to work on my organizational skills.” – Christopher

Thank you to our students who have uplifted us during this time and continue to reach their goals!

Mr. Gamber has been a long time volunteer who has been upgrading our old laptops and some he has donated, so that our students can do their online coursework and participate in our virtual labs and workshops.

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Meet Alaysha

Both of my parents moved to Naples from the Bahamas and are school bus drivers. They’ve always instilled in my siblings and me the value of an education. I’ve always admired my teachers; their brightly decorated classrooms made me excited to learn new things that I would share with my brother.

Five years ago, my school counselor shared an opportunity that changed my life. My parents and I completed my application, and I was selected into Champions For Learning’s program. I was matched with my mentor Tammi, a retired teacher, and given the promise of a two-year college scholarship upon high school graduation. At first, I was nervous about meeting with my mentor, but those fears quickly diminished. As we learned more about each other, now I consider Tammi one of my closest friends.

Because of Champions For Learning and my mentor I have a clear path for my future. The weekly programming has guided me through the college and scholarship applications, helped us complete financial aid applications, and provided campus tours. Champions For Learning has been there every step of the way. Even now, with schools closed and “social distancing”, my mentor supports me through phone calls, and Champions For Learning is providing virtual sessions, webinars, and resources to ensure I stay on track during this critical time.

Today, I have served my community with more than 200 service hours, earned a 4.0+ GPA, been accepted to Florida Gulf Coast University and The University of South Florida and completed 55 scholarship applications to-date. When I graduate from high school this spring, I will also be graduating with my two-year degree from Florida SouthWestern State College and the first in my family to earn a degree. Through Champions For Learning, my community has shown they believe in me, and my teachers, and want us all to succeed.
When I close my eyes, I can already see my classroom, I know where each board will be and what will be on them, how my students’ desks will be arranged, and how I will use what I’ve learned from my own teachers. I want every student to have the same opportunities that I have.


I’m proud to live in a community that is united around supporting educators and I want to become a teacher so that I can impact students and give back to my community.

~Alaysha G., senior at Golden Gate High School, dual enrolled at Florida Southwestern State College

 

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CHAMPIONS FOR LEARNING’S STUDENT NAMED AS A LEADERS FOR LIFE FELLOW

Champions For Learning is excited to announce that one of our senior students, Emma has been chosen as a Leaders For Life Fellow. Emma is currently a senior at Naples High School and is dually enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Emma is one of 6 students selected through the statewide Take Stock In Children Program; fellows receive leadership training and professional development opportunities, a new laptop computer, and funding up to $40,000 to attend a 4-year public university in Florida. The L4L selection process was a competitive one with each (TSIC) county affiliate able to submit 2 student applicants. Of the 100+ applicants, a panel reviewed application essays, letters of recommendation, academic record, test scores, extracurricular activities, and video submission to ultimately select the 6 Fellows.

Emma is involved in many ways in the community, she founded a Creative Writing Program that provides workshops for middle school students. Emma is involved with Gulfshore Playhouse as not only a stage manager but also as a mentor for the students. She also initiated the March For Our Lives movement in southwest Florida with the help of local groups. Emma is passionate about literature, she started a magazine called Generation Z and is the co-founder of the Literary Magazine at Naples High School. Emma will be pursuing a degree in English at Wellesely College and aspires to be an English professor one day.

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Where Are They Now? Meet Juan

The Champions For Learning College and Career Prep Program kickstarted and pushed Juan to figure out what his next steps would be in his education. “The staff at Champions For Learning gave me the knowledge and tools I needed to succeed, they were my advocates. From filling out my FAFSA to getting everything ready to attend Florida Gulf Coast University, Champions For Learning was there every step of the way,” said Juan.

After graduating from the program Juan started as a nursing major at FGCU but he quickly figured out that nursing wasn’t for him. He changed his major to Criminal Justice and immediately fell in love with all his classes.

Since starting his post-secondary education Juan quickly got involved on campus starting with the Office of Student Support Services with an academic group called TRIO. He also joined the honors college in his sophomore year and became part of the swim club. He has been able to lead the swim club as their captain to Nationals for the past three years and he is ranked number two in the state of Florida in his division. Along the way he also joined a fraternity, Phi Delta Theta has given him many opportunities he wouldn’t have otherwise and has helped him to give back to his community by volunteering with various organizations.

Now he is interning with the Department of Juvenile Justice in Fort Myers where he works with youth, “the best part about interning with them is that I get to impact my community similar to the way that my community was able to make an impact on me through Champions
For Learning,” said Juan. After graduation, he will be applying to law school and wants to become an assistant district attorney or pursue business law.

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Becoming A Champion For My Commmunity : Billensky

Hi, My name is Billensky and I’m a senior at Golden Gate High School. I live with my mother, my sister, and my grandmother. I have a job and work to help with household expenses, and I try to save money for the future when I can. Five years ago, my school counselor shared an opportunity with me that changed my life. I completed my application, and after a selection process, was inducted into Champions For Learning. I was matched with a mentor and was given the promise of a two-year college scholarship when I graduated high school.
When I was standing on stage being inducted, I looked out into the audience and saw a room full of people cheering me and my classmates on and realized I was a part of something far bigger than I could ever imagine. That evening I met my mentor for the first time as well as the donor that had funded my scholarship. My mother always encouraged me to work hard in school, which I did, but now I had a mentor and donor that I was determined not to let down.
Meeting regularly with the staff at Champions For Learning and my mentor has helped me stay on track and develop a plan for my future. Thanks to Champions For Learning, I’ve had the opportunity to visit several of the universities in Florida. That really helped me decide on which colleges to apply to. Without Champions For Learning, I wouldn’t have known where to start. Going to the weekly college and career preparation labs have also helped me learn how to network and how to prepare a resume. They also had volunteers who sat with me and my mom to help us complete my financial aid applications.
Champions For Learning has been there every step of the way. Today I have over a 4.0 GPA, I’ve completed my college and financial aid applications, and I’ve done over 100 hours of community service. I’m proud to say that I will be the first in my family to go to college! I have already received three college acceptances and $90,000 in scholarship offers – on top of the scholarship I earn through Champions For Learning. I’m so grateful to my teachers, my mentor, the Champions For Learning staff, and all the volunteers that have helped me along the way. Though I haven’t decided what college to attend yet, I’m looking forward to studying business and returning to Collier County, where I’ve grown up, and help pay it forward to the next group of students. Stay Tuned!
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