.To establish a link between newly arrived immigrants and local organizations of aid in order to provide inspiration and concrete connections as they transition into their new home.
To ease the transition of new arrivals into the local community and empower them to succeed.
Debora Gonzalez is a college-bound senior who will soon graduate from the School for AdvancedStudies, one of the most renowned public high schools in the United States, and has recently received early admission to Harvard’s class of 2021. As a recent immigrant fromCuba and Mexico, achieving success was an arduous journey. Without knowledge of English or understanding of the local culture, Debora faced the often devastating trials of being an outsider. Debi assures that her journey wouldn’t have been possible without the support and guidance of extraordinary teachers and mentors that went out of their way to help her overcome the many challenges that haunted her and her family. Throughout herleadership in nonprofit and school organizations, Debora has become an active member of thecommunity, and has witnessed promising youth struggle to hold on to hope and lose faith in the veryinstitutions that can open doors of opportunity for them.
She started mentoring younger ELL students during her freshman year hoping that her journey would help them realize they were not alone on their own. She also worked with National Honor Society at International Studies Charter High School to establish the school’s tutoring program helping not only ELL students, but any struggling child to find the support they needed. This program was very successful in helping students improve their grades and pass standardized tests. Once she transferred to School For Advanced Studies, her vision widened, but she found it difficult to gather the resources and support network to develop the idea of a well-established peer mentoring program for recent immigrant middle school students. Yet, the vision was only fueled by the connections Debi developed with her peers at SAS, many of whom are recent immigrants into the country, and had to overcome tremendous obstacles to succeed. Thankfully, as a 2016 Bezos scholar, Debora was invited tothe Aspen Ideas Festival as part of a select group of students from around the world, and was inspired tothink big and bring her ideas into action.
She came home ready to expand and solidify her vision. Together with 2016 Bezos Educator Scholar Jeff Dearing, Debi’s AP English Teacher, she gathered a team of highly qualified (immigrant-success stories themselves) from our school’s 5 different campuses and connected them with recent immigrant middle schoolers in each campus’s vicinity. Like her own mentees, these students that we have recruited are now in the process of adapting to their new home in the Miami community. Our project offers them an example to follow, tutoring to improve English language skills, social support, and a personal connection they can rely on. Shaped by the extraordinary ideas of students like Teresa, Nathalie, Sebastian, Gabriel, Katherine, Anastasia, Maria, Katherine, Moises, Ernesto, Dax, Lourdes and others, who are in one or another vibrant examples of what hard work and guidance can do for promising young immigrants, we have also launched an inaugural local ideas festival - FLYi Fest- in collaboration with Miami Dade College and School For Advanced Studies, which will showcase the available network of existing educational and support resources, including tutoring, daycare, summer programs, degree revalidation and transportation, for those most in need of help by bringing together leaders of local governmental institutions and civic organizations. Thus, cultivating a culture of community and service among our volunteers and our mentees.