The scholars selected by New Futures are a unique and courageous group, who have already demonstrated their commitment by overcoming enormous obstacles to obtain their GED or high school degrees. With the help of New Futures, they are ready to take the next step in education and their chosen professional fields.
Jonathan’s dream is to become a graphic designer, but he first wanted to ensure he had a very secure, well-paying skill that he could always fall back on. He had an interest and aptitude for auto mechanics, so he chose to attend the Excel Institute to obtain his auto mechanic certification. He is now working as a mechanic for the Metro Bus System and is getting himself on sound financial footing before pursuing additional schooling in graphic design.
Wilmer attended LAYC’s NextStep Public Charter School with the goal of quickly getting his GED and getting out. Once there however, he ended up taking advantage of many educational and internship opportunities available to him. A visit to the University of Ditrict Columbia Aviation Maintenance Technology program opened Wilmer’s eyes to an interesting career. He worked hard to obtain his GED and sought a New Futures scholarship to study further. Wilmer obtained a certificate in Aviation Maintenance and is currently working for Northwest Airlines at National Airport.
Lizandro came to the United States from Honduras to be with his mother, who had been separated from him thirteen years ago. His goal was also to obtain an education and a career to support his two young children whom he had left back home. Lizandro attended the NextStep Public Charter School where he studied for two years and obtained his GED. His interest in math and computer science led him to pursue a New Futures scholarship. He took computer and network courses and obtained certification as a Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) and a Certified System Engineer (MCSE). After working in the field of computer technology and improving his English skills, Lizandro applied for a second New Futures scholarship, so that he could update his prior certifications to address the latest Microsoft technologies. He now works as a Desktop Support Technician at the Latin American Youth Center. Lizandro has also used his skills to help numerous local organizations on a volunteer basis, fixing computers and teaching basic computer use to others.
From being relegated to special education classes to experiencing his father’s murder, Antonio’s childhood was fraught with challenges. Yet Antonio overcame every obstacle to continue going to school, while constantly working to help out his grandmother, the only family member left to raise him and his brother. Antonio worked with his tutor and mentor throughout junior high and high school, greatly improving his reading and other skills, and started considering the exciting prospect of becoming the first in his family to get a college degree. Antonio used his New Futures scholarship to attend the Virginia Union College where he maintained a B average and played on the golf team. He graduated from Virginia Union College in May 2008 with a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice and obtained a job with a real estate development and management company while searching for a position in his field. He is now in the process of securing a position with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency of the District of Columbia.
Minerva Lazo dropped out of high school due to difficult financial circumstances, but didn’t want to throw away her chances at higher education. She enrolled in the YouthBuild program at LAYC, obtained her GED, and then worked for the community through the AmeriCorps program. With the help of a New Futures scholarship, Minerva was able to enroll at the University of District Columbia to study social work so she could continue to work with youth and families in need. While attending school, Minerva worked at Housing Counseling Services as a bilingual intake specialist and case manager. She then joined scholar Priscilla Mendizabel in transitioning to a combined Bachelor’s/Masters Program at Lincoln University. Working full-time on the weekdays, Minerva would drive to Pennsylvania each Saturday morning to attend classes all day. She graduated in May, 2008 with a master’s degree in Human Services.
Zoila moved from El Salvador to join her mother and sisters when she was twelve years old, She quickly settled into a rigorous routine, working hard to learn English at the NextStep Charter School while getting up at 5 each morning to prepare and sell pupusas to workers in Columbia Heights. Once she had learned to speak English, Zoila enrolled at the Roosevelt High School, where she obtained a high school degree. With the help of a New Futures scholarship, Zoila obtained a certificate in the field of Medical Billing.
Priscilla’s early years were plagued with truancy and drug use. She dropped out of high school and went through unsuccessful counseling at two residential youth help centers. She returned to high school a second time, but dropped out again due to the financial difficulties and lack of parental support. Determined to get her life back on track this time, Priscilla obtained her GED and began working in programs for teens with problems similar to her own. It was here that she was inspired to study Social Work. A New Futures scholarship enabled her to enroll at the University of District Columbia while working part-time, and within several years, Priscilla transitioned to a combined bachelor’s/master’s program at the Lincoln University, PA. When she graduated in 2008 with a master’s in Human Services, Priscilla arranged to have her younger cousins travel to Pennsylvania to see her graduate–she wanted them to believe that like her, they could achieve anything in their lives with hard work. These days, she works at LAYC’s Art and Media House, which encourages youth to discover the power of their art as a means of self-expression and exploring community issues. She also mentors two New Futures scholars.
Roxana arrived in the US from El Salvador with a fifth grade education. She was enrolled at the Next Step Public Charter School, and over the next several years worked hard to learn English and obtain her GED. While going to school, she regularly participated in internships and worked at various jobs at night. Although no one in her family had ever had the opportunity to receive a higher education, Roxanna strongly believed that studying further was crucial to creating a better life for herself and her family. She applied for and received a New Futures scholarship to attend the American Beauty Academy, where she obtained her cosmetology license.
Despite domestic and financial instability while growing up, Alexis succeeded in graduating from high school and sought assistance from New Futures to attend Montgomery College, Maryland. In May, 2008, she graduated with an Associate Degree in General Studies, and obtained a job as a Teacher’s Assistant at Meridian Public Charter School in northwest Washington, D.C. Alexis tells us, “Without this scholarship, I would never have been able to attend school at all, which I have done while living on my own.”
Kairo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and arrived to the United States with his parents at the age of two. Kairo attended D.C. public schools and received his high school diploma from the Woodrow Wilson Senior High School. He then attended Montgomery Community College where he obtained an A.A. in General Studies. Kairo did not stop there: he transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park where he graduated with a B.S. in Family Studies in 2007. These days, Kairo has a full time job as an Exhibits and Education Coordinator for the Amazonia Science Gallery at the National Zoo, Washington D.C. Kairo says, “Growing up was hard with limited resources and parents who worked hard, but were hampered by their language barrier. I worked hard to make my parents and all who believed in me proud”. Kairo’s goal is to give back to the community and make a difference in people’s lives, just as others have done for him. He is now pursuing a master’s degree is Social Work in the evening and teaching ESL classes on the weekends.