Our Work for Students, Student Highlight

Champions For Learning Student Reflects on His Successful Journey

As a member of the Collier County Public Schools graduating Class of 2024, Fernando Pedroso Garcia recently completed Champions For Learning’s Take Stock in Children and College and Career Preparation programs. This coming fall semester, he will be attending the University of Central Florida, where he plans to study engineering. During our recent Countdown to Cap and Gown Ceremony, where we celebrated the soon-to-be high school graduates, Fernando took the stage to reflect on his journey with Champions For Learning and share his story with family, friends, peers, and community members who attended the event.

When he was in eighth grade, Fernando and his family were still adjusting to life in the United States after immigrating from Cuba. They were unsure what Fernando’s future would bring and were looking for ways to support him during high school and beyond. When Fernando was introduced to our Take Stock in Children program, he and his parents realized that Champions For Learning would offer exactly the type of resources and guidance that he needed to navigate the complex American educational system, which was completely new to the family.

Fernando was paired with a caring Champions For Learning mentor, Roger Munz, who would become another pillar of support as he progressed through the program and high school. What began as a mentorship was cultivated into a genuine friendship as Fernando and Roger met on a weekly basis. They discussed both of their lives: their joys and hardships; their triumphs and future goals. Roger not only showed Fernando how to view situations from different perspectives, but he also challenged his mentee with questions to help him prepare for classroom presentations and tests. Most importantly, Roger helped Fernando explore different career paths, and he discovered a passion for mechanical engineering and working with cars.

Fernando and his mentor Rodger at the Countdown to Cap and Gown ceremony.

“Having someone with Roger’s expertise and wisdom supporting me was a crucial part of why I am here today,” Fernando said during Countdown to Cap and Gown.

When Fernando committed to enrolling in our Take Stock in Children program back in 2020, he knew he would also be committing his time and effort over the next four years by actively participating in workshops and lab sessions to make a difference in the trajectory of his life. Now as a senior, he doesn’t regret his choice one bit. “Champions For Learning means so much to me,” Fernando said during his speech. “I don’t view Champions as just another organization; I view it as a community. A community of students, coaches, and mentors who all work together to achieve the ultimate goal of reaching college and becoming whatever and whoever we want to become.”

Fernando is only one student of the 78 high school graduates who are advancing to the next stage of life. For some, their work with Champions For Learning is complete. For others, we will continue to walk alongside them as they enter their personal postsecondary path.

Will you join us in celebrating our 2024 senior class by making a gift to Champions For Learning’s Student Programs in their honor? Your investment will ensure that future students, like Fernando and his peers, continue to receive the resources, guidance, and encouragement to never lose sight of their academic dreams. To invest in Collier County education and make an online gift, please click the button below.