Business management may have been Alejandra destiny all along—her family owns the Sopapilla Factory in Pojoaque—but AVID helped her find her focus. As a leader in the AVID tutorials, she found that helping others with math helped hone her leadership skills and think about how to motivate and train people. “I’m interested in how people think and learn. The experience of being a tutor made me a better leader.”
AVID’s training in researching college and financial aid helped a lot, for her and her parents. “I wouldn’t have researched as many colleges or explored as many majors as I did without AVID,” she said. Alejandra has received the Bridge of Opportunity Scholarship and a New Mexico Lottery scholarship, “making it possible to go to college without taking out loans.”
Alejandra is headed to New Mexico State University to study business management (though she’s also interested in child psychology). She’ll room with her sister Jimena, who recruited her to AVID and preceded her to NMSU to study journalism, “so we can cook Mom’s recipes.”
Rocio didn’t always know she wanted to be a doctor. “AVID helped me discover what I wanted to be. We wrote goal setting essays with short and long-term goals. It helped me define my talents.”
Her talents and hard work have led her to a full-ride scholarship to St. Edwards University, a prestigious private college in Austin, Texas, where she’ll study pre-med. She also received the Andrew and Sydney Davis Scholarship and the Simon Family Foundation Scholarship.
While her parents worry about her going to school so far away, they are immensely proud. She is the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college. She is an inspiration to her two little sisters, one at Sweeney Elementary and one at Ortiz Middle School (she’ll join AVID this year).
“The ENLACE/AVID program’s effort to engage my parents was really important. It helped them understand how college and scholarship applications work. We had financial aid nights, where we went over all the different awards and all that goes into qualifying. It’s made the difference between going to college and not going.”
"Being a tutor is literally shaping me. I’m doing what I love—talking to kids, working with them to be more thoughtful. I know I’m reaching them because everyone in my group participates in our sessions. My partner teacher says I have to be a teacher because she gets great feedback about me from the kids."
Samantha is an AVID English tutor at Ortiz Middle School, Capital High and The Academy at Larragoite. She’s in a good position to teach language arts because she has always been strong in English. “I really enjoy writing and reading, the whole process of critical thinking and discussion. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Morrissey, made reading and grammar really fun and helped me find a passion for English.”
Samantha also speaks Spanish, which will make her an incredibly valuable teacher in Santa Fe and helps her reach students who are learning English, “Spanish speaking students are really isolated and don’t necessarily join in. Being bilingual helps me reach ESL students and get them to participate.”
Her work as a tutor is part of her training to become an English teacher and her path as she plans it—she’s at Santa Fe Community College now and intends to transfer to UNM in 2012—is an interesting one. She intends to join the Air Force ROTC. “If I join the Air Force and become a chaplain officer, I’ll get experience in counseling people, some who have had really hard experiences in war. I can bring that experience back to the schools as a teacher to help kids.”
AVID has been a big part of charting that path. “AVID has been a huge impact on me. I’ve seen how AVID helps kids who lack resources. In high school, you’re really trying to be someone and find a place to fit and college may or may not be part of that. For the kids who are in AVID, there’s the expectation that you will go. There’s pressure to do well in school and go on with your education.”
She sees the difference that AVID makes in the students she tutors and the school community in general. She asked the students that are also athletes how they’re different from their teammates. “They say, ‘Well, we think about school and stuff.’ I’m trying to build a relationship with them and it helps them help each other.”
ENLACE Manager Kristen Krell encourages Brenda to be a teacher, “Brenda would make a wonderful teacher or mentor. She is such a great leader.”
Her skill in motivating others is inspired by her experience in AVID tutorials, as well as her family. “I want to be an example for my little brother, who’s three,” she said. Brenda is the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college.
Campus visits to UNM, Highlands University and Santa Fe Community College helped her focus on going to college. “We saw classrooms and met upperclassmen. It helped me be able to picture myself there.
Brenda is headed to UNM; she thinks her major will be sociology, but she’s looking forward to exploring other fields and figuring it out. ENLACE/GEAR UP’s financial aid training helped her apply for and receive the Bridge to Opportunity, Breakthrough, and New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union Foundation scholarships.
Miranda Lawler knows better than anyone how AVID helps students successfully navigate high school and go to college. Recruited for AVID as a freshman by a soccer team member, Miranda found the support of the AVID community and the study skills (Cornell note taking, tutorials, etc.) really helpful in preparing for classes.
She did so well that by her junior year she thought she’d learned everything she could and quit the college prep program.
Immediately, her grades dropped and the difficulties every student faces of balancing school, home and planning for the future became apparent. Within a quarter, Miranda rejoined AVID. “My AVID family really helped,” she said, noting that the AVID community, led by Cybele Leverett at Santa Fe High, stays together for all four years. The tight group creates a culture of diligence and success, encouragement and pressure to complete assignments.
And it worked. Miranda is heading to Colorado State University, where she may study chemistry or veterinary sciences. AVID’s training for students and parents in navigating financial aid applications helped Miranda get Pell and FAFSA grants and financial aid from the school. Knowing how to make use of financial resources, according to Miranda, “makes the difference between going and not going” for a lot of students.
Ronald’s younger brother, who wasn’t especially focused on school, surprised him with a text one day, It said, "I’m really proud of you. You’re a big inspiration to me and now I want to go to college and be an inspiration to our little sister like you are to me.’”
Ronald is an inspiration to more than just his siblings. Through his hard work in school and participation in the AVID program and Leadership Council, he is headed to UNM to study pre-med with a full-ride scholarship through UNM’s prestigious BA/MD program. The BA/MD Combined Degree Program unites pre-med and medical school into a single program and guarantees members a spot at UNM’s medical school. He also received Simon Family Foundation and Oppenheimer scholarships to help with living expenses.
He’s a first generation American. “My parents always expected me to do well. It’s why we came here, but they didn’t always know how to make my education a success. The ENLACE/GEAR UP programs help a lot, showing you why you should go to college, how it benefits you and your community. Also how to apply for scholarships and financial aid. Lots of people say they can’t go to college because they can’t afford it, but AVID shows them that you can go.”
His seven-year-old sister used to complain that she missed him when he was off taking advanced placement classes, working with the ENLACE/GEAR UP Student Leadership program to understand and address the achievement gap in student success, or visiting college campuses. Her mother explained that he was working hard in school.
Now his sister proudly tells her friends, “My brother is going to school to become a doctor.”
Michael knows very specifically what he wants to do. “I want to be a math teacher at Capital High School.” He’s known he was good at math since the sixth grade; it was always where he got his best grades. “I know I can teach math and help students do well. I want to give back and help kids with their education.”
Fluent in both English and Spanish, Michael will be a very valuable teacher in our school district. As an AVID math tutor, he’s already on his way. Michael works with seventh graders at Ortiz Middle School and with students of all grades at Santa Fe High, teaching algebra through pre-calculus.
He knows personally the value of AVID. “I joined AVID in eighth grade because it was advertised as something that would help you succeed.” AVID strengthened his math skills even more. “Tutors really helped me; they gave me a place where you could bring questions. It was a place to get unstuck.”
Michael has a little sister who’s three, and a brother, 12, at Ortiz Middle School. “I’ll try to make him join AVID in seventh grade; I think it’s something that will really help.”
AVID also helped Michael and his family plan his future. They researched colleges and his parents attended a workshop on federal student aid to help pay for college, something his parents weren’t sure was possible.
“All my family is really proud. I don’t think they ever expected this of me, now I’m proving myself.”
The ENLACE/AVID Collaborative relies on community support in order to provide services.
Donate by check: Make your check out to the Santa Fe Community College Foundation, 6401 Richards Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87508. Be sure to include the name ‘ENLACE’ on your check.
AVID School Site Coordinators
Santa Fe High School – CYBELE LEVERETT CLEVERETT@sfps.info
Capital High School- SCOTT HANCOCK SHANCOCK@sfps.info
Ortiz Middle School - TANYA GARCIA TANYAGARCIA@sfps.info
DeVargas Middle School - BROOKE TURNQUIST BTURNQUIST@sfps.info
The Academy at Larragoite - DAVID TRUJILLO DTRUJILLO@sfps.info