By Don Krim
Jóvenes Adelante (JA) application crunch time started on December 12 and closes on January 13. As of this writing, we have received a record 218 applications, with 138 eager students already accepted into our second of four stages of selection. Our selection process coordinator, Dulce Cerritos, reports, “Astonishment would be the word that might best define the impression I have had so far with the (school) visits. To put things in context, this year—in order to raise awareness among younger grade students—we included them in the dissemination of JA’s Premium Scholarship Program. In addition to sharing what Jóvenes Adelante does and the benefits they would receive after being accepted, we shared topics on how to develop their skills, tips for choosing schools, and how they could make better decisions by being well-informed. We definitely raised eyebrows among those present at each presentation. To our surprise, the greatest interest lay with the 3rd-semester prepa (high school junior) students. We addressed 12 schools directly and three more schools through Comunidad Don Diego. We also had neighborhood presentations with attendance from Santa Cecilia, Lomita, San Luis Rey, Montes de Loreto, Francisco Villa, Bella Vista, and Dolores Hidalgo.”
This direct outreach was in addition to our ongoing social media presence and radio, bus, and printed advertisements. For this academic cycle 2023/2024, JA’s application process, always open to all communities in the municipality of San Miguel de Allende, expanded to include neighboring Bajío cities. This year, the first return to “normalcy” following COVID, also marks what we hope is a return to previous trends of increasing demand for university spaces. This flood of quality applications looks very promising!!! JA supports 117 current students, and our 2023 goal is to admit 35 more.
Jóvenes Adelante normally supports students for five years (more for medical students), including their professional credentialing. Our premium scholarship plus a new laptop is potently leveraged for success by monthly one-on-one mentor meetings, professional guidance counseling, volunteer psychologists on hand, a three-year series of mandatory success skills programs, career development travel expense nationally for conferences, etc., travel abroad related to the student’s major and/or for intensive English immersion, professional credentialing costs, master’s degree support for selected JA graduates, and English tutoring support ranging from beginner to international certification-level exams. We also provide extra economic support when family resources fall short and funding to bridge life emergencies. We have enlarged this resilience support by introducing vocational assessment for high school seniors applying to JA to ground them in their own realities while opening their eyes more widely to what is possible.
With this integrated package of university support, JA leads the way in bringing educational equity to local San Miguel region students. Our students with high vision but low resources are making an enormous socio-economic leap via higher education. That is the essence of Jóvenes Adelante! Our 83% graduation rate tells the story: financial support is not enough to reach parity with more socio-economically advantaged students, but JA’s comprehensive program helps parity become a reality (the state and national graduation rate is 26%.)
Socio-economic mobility can take many generations in Mexico, but higher education is an immediate inter-generational game changer, often transforming entire families and inspiring whole communities. At JA’s recent annual reunion, 10 graduates were on hand with 103 current students sharing their experiences, networking, and inspiring our newer students. Several of JA’s close to 100 mentors are now our own graduates. Other graduates are increasingly seeking opportunities to offer extra-curricular classes for our students and to become ambassadors for JA to new classes of hopefuls. The commitment, the promise, the experience comes full circle with gratitude and heart.
In the words of a new graduate Juan Pablo del Ángel, “I was infected with helping others in whatever way possible. I also received psychological support, which helped me grow personally. I closed cycles and understood that many times, or most of the time, the most complicated battle is with oneself.
“In five years, I see myself as an entrepreneur having a couple of businesses with more preparation, supporting my nephews even more so that they continue with their studies, and giving back a little of how much people have helped me in life. In addition, I would like to continue being part of the Jóvenes Adelante family. I feel great nostalgia knowing that I am very close to ending the program; however, I want to remain in some way. I am extremely grateful to everyone who makes it possible for JA to continue growing and succeeding—perhaps now I cannot support it financially, but I am sure that I can contribute in some other way, and I am at your disposal for it.
“Finally, I would like to thank each one of those who make up this wonderful program, especially my mentor, my sponsor, JA members Don Krim, Sary, Esther, Angie, and Antonio. I would not finish mentioning to everyone that of course, they are equally important, but I want to tell you that they completely changed my life, and I am sure that now I am closer to having a ‘Brilliant Destiny.’ Thank you very much.”
Please believe with us in the power of higher education to profoundly impact socio-economic mobility and the lives of those who must be the future of Mexico. To be a financial sponsor, monthly supporter, or support in other ways, please contact email@example.com and visit jovenesadelante.org.