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Thirty-six students pledged to regularly attend all of their classes, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, and be positive role models to other students in school as the newest inductees in The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program.

In addition, the seventh- through 11th-grade students pledged to meet with their mentors regularly, remain drug and crime free, volunteer in their community, and attend all required Take Stock in Children workshops and events.

During the March 9 ceremony at Ave Maria University, the new inductees joined hundreds of students from Immokalee who – during the foundation’s 25 years – have met their commitments and been offered scholarships to Florida colleges or universities upon high school graduation.

Inductees also were joined by parents, siblings, friends, mentors, board members and The Immokalee Foundation staff for dinner. While they dined, a slide show featured photos of each student.

Among those watching for his photo to come around was eighth-grader Israel Briones Jr., whose parents saw him cross the stage and pick up the certificate he earned as an Immokalee Foundation Take Stock in Children student. Briones already has an idea that he’d like to become an engineer, having been on a field trip to a local university where he learned about the study of engineering with his Immokalee Middle School class.

But should he change his mind, Briones will be able to explore additional career options through The Immokalee Foundation’s community partners in its Career Development program – just one new educational avenue he will have as a Take Stock student.

Student speaker Ulna Beaubrum talked about other benefits of being chosen for the program. “Being accepted into Take Stock in Children provided me with hope that college was a possibility,” she said. “My biggest blessing from The Immokalee Foundation came when my student advocate encouraged me to apply to Florida State University’s summer medical program. I applied with little faith that a small girl like me from a small town would be selected. Due to my faith and the faith my advocate had in me, I was indeed selected.”

She continued down that path until she came face to face with her future. “I will graduate in May and attend Florida State University to major in biology and become a pediatrician,” Beaubrum said.

Mentor Joseph Sciortino spoke about the rewards of mentorship and passed along appreciative comments he had heard from Take Stock mentees. “My mentor has been interested in my well-being as well as my academic success,” said one. “My mentor believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself,” said another.

Parent Tavis Rios expressed his appreciation for having four children selected as Take Stock in Children recipients.

The Immokalee Foundation Board Chair Joyce Hagen said, “Students, you would not be here without this family support that surrounds you tonight. Your family believes in you. And now, you believe in yourself. And we believe in you, too.”

Hagen finished with a promise: “Our staff will do everything in their power to position you for a brilliant future.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

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