By Don Krim
Like every generation young Mexicans hope to lead a better life than their parents.
Right now, we at Jóvenes Adelante (JA) are interviewing 100 candidates to decide who will join JA and who will not, and the agony and the ecstasy of Mexican youth is more palpable than ever.
The pandemic has impacted every applicant, every family. It has altered world views. While nationwide online learning has led to millions of dropouts who might never return to school each one of these applicants has responded despite frustration with a resolve and emphatic conviction that their time is now; that tomorrow everything could change again; that the moment to complete their studies must be seized for everything it is worth: to achieve their own goals and sense of achievement, those of their families, their communities and for Mexico.
We at Jóvenes Adelante are overwhelmed–ecstatically so–by the quality of our applicants. Five hundred fifty initially applied; 237 were invited to send in full applications; 100 are now being interviewed. As of this writing, I can’t predict how many will proceed to the penultimate step of a final interview with their family, and then on to our final selection.
Every single one of these remaining applicants will either be the first in their family to go to university or share that distinction with a sibling. They are the first generation. They are blazing a trail that carries a singular motivation above all: to better the state of their lives, of their parents and of their Mexico.
This year we will support a minimum of 25 students and are looking for the means to support 30. Would that we could support every one of these students whose academic achievements, financial necessity and choice of school or career vary. Those whom we choose will be ecstatic as will JA. Those we turn away will have to find another way but for those of us in Jóvenes Adelante, turning them away will be a true agony.
The gift of supporting an education, of supporting a student over four or five years of a university career is the gift of making a lasting impact. A student I interviewed put it this way:
“There are government programs that help with food distributions; important, of course. There are new roads that get built. But what happens two weeks from now, when the food runs out? Are the roads really a service to the community? To really change Mexican society requires an analysis of the real root problems and investing to build the solutions.”
I am speechless.
JA’s support structure is the most robust, comprehensive higher education support program in San Miguel de Allende and all of Mexico. Scholarships open the door, but that is only the beginning. Step by step for their entire school career JA is there to do everything in its power to make sure these students succeed.