By Don Krim
Jóvenes Adelante’s (JA) 34 new 2021 scholars will gather en masse for the first time meeting in person with the staff and support team that make Jóvenes Adelante’s scholarship program uniquely successful: the Student Selection Coordinator with whom they have been interacting since January and who currently knows them best; the Student Relations Coordinator at their disposal whenever any difficulty or complication arises and help is needed, who can facilitate psychological assistance as needed, who will set up their in-house auxiliary training programs, and solicit their quarterly reports that allow JA to monitor progress along with mentor reports. Students will meet the members of our English as a Foreign Language support team, the coordinators of these programs, our mentor coordinators, as well as our lead psychologist and our student program advisors. Perhaps most exciting they will meet each other and begin to discover the power of the JA “family,” the staff that facilitates student to student communications and support networks, our graduate network, and our private chat boards. Our Executive Director Angie Argüelles and board members as well as some experienced and wise selected graduates and current students will be on hand. The class of 2021 will join the Jóvenes Adelante family!
JA has carefully planned this get-together to coach and safely model what students can expect when they return to classroom settings whether as soon as August or in the new year. We want them ready to emerge after almost 18 months of Covid using what we have all learned as they come out of their cocoons of safety into their new and likely varied university environments.
To top off the annual orientation in the afternoon session each student will have their all-important, first meeting connection with their new, one-on-one mentor! Mentoring has been the backbone of JA’s success since its beginning. The student mentor meetings will occur at least monthly and often weekly over the course of the next three to five years. This is one of the most emotion-filled meetings for the mentors and is often a bit intimidating for the new students. “What on earth is a mentor, and what am I supposed to do and how am I supposed to behave?” is a common, if unstated reaction. They will learn to engage with respect, rely upon, and often truly love their mentors, and vice versa.
Over the next few weeks I will share stories from these orientation meetings, individual student stories, and accounts of early mentor-student relations. In time I hope to also share experiences from both students and sponsors when they have their first encounters or from a raft of upcoming graduates who share their gratitude and experience of being a part of Jóvenes Adelante or perhaps describing their first jobs! Each of these individual and collective experiences are markers of the Jovenes Adelante journey a part of their Destinos Brillantes.