Immokalee Foundation student Fabian Estrada was recently named one of only six Leaders 4 Life Fellows, a distinction Florida-based Take Stock in Children bestows annually. A statewide mentoring, college success, and college scholarship organization, Take Stock in Children (TSIC) partners with the Asofsky Family Foundation each year for the Leaders 4 Life program.
Estrada is The Immokalee Foundation’s third student to receive this honor in the past four years. He joins a select group that includes Giselle Nava (2020) and Joel Guerrero (2022).
The mission of the fellowship program is to enable highly motivated TSIC scholars from around the state who have demonstrated strong leadership skills, moral character and academic success to excel in a university environment.
The program aims to eliminate the financial burdens usually associated with a university education and allow the fellows to devote 100% of their attention to their studies and personal development.
As a Leaders 4 Life Fellow, Estrada will receive a $40,000 scholarship for college expenses not covered by any other award or financial aid, including leadership training and development, housing, food, textbooks, supplies, transportation, and other college-related costs.
An Immokalee High School senior, Estrada has actively participated in The Immokalee Foundation’s Healthcare Pathway, part of the Foundation’s innovative Career Pathways after school and summer curriculum. His passion for helping people was inspired by his childhood medical issues and the caring doctors who treated him.
This Fall, he plans to pursue a healthcare career, potentially biomedical engineering, at either Duke University or the University of Florida.
As migrant farm workers, Estrada’s parents follow the summer harvest from Immokalee to North Carolina each year. The family typically lives in Florida from November through May and in Hendersonville, North Carolina, from June to October. It’s not difficult to predict the myriad challenges facing children whose lives are uprooted annually.
The Immokalee Foundation has provided Estrada with much-needed stability before, during and after these tricky transition periods. He has a staff advocate who understands the challenges migrant students face. Plus, he has a mentor, Joe Zednik, a community volunteer and Immokalee Foundation Board Member, who supports his goals and educational progress.
“Since I first met him five years ago, Fabian has grown into a disciplined, well-mannered, and strong-willed leader. He has been elected to leadership roles on his cross-country team and in marching band. Plus, he was elected Vice President of his senior class,” observed Zednik. “He never backs down from a commitment and is always willing to go above and beyond to achieve his goals. I’m 81 and he’s 18, yet we can sit down and talk and he’s wonderful in conversation. That’s an unusual and special trait for someone his age.”
“We are extraordinarily proud of Fabian for receiving this honor,” said Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “The challenges our students face would overwhelm any number of adults, but Fabian has used the resources made available to him to seize control of his life and his future. He checks all the boxes: academic excellence, drive, work ethic, leadership, volunteerism and charisma. He is a role model for hundreds more of Immokalee’s best and brightest—those waiting to make their dreams come true, too.”