In Student Success Blog

On the surface, life may seem like a linear journey, staring at birth and ending with our final breath. However, if there is anything that life teaches, a straight line is hardly a good measure of our existence.

 If we take a closer look, we see circles — or as Pythagoras would say, the most perfect shape that has ever existed. After all, much of nature is built in circular shapes and moves in circular patterns. From our planet, to the sun and moon, all the way down to the structure of our cells and atoms, circular shapes and patterns are everywhere. Electrons circle protons, the moon circles the earth, the earth circles the sun, and on it goes.

There is something truly significant about this shape, and experience teaches us that it doesn’t just belong to geometry. Rather, we see it carried out through the unfolding of events in our lives.

The Immokalee Foundation is no exception. These five full-circle moments build upon what makes it so special.

David A. Turrubiartez Jr.

David Turrubiartez and his two sons celebrate moving into their new home at The Learning Lab.

In August 2023, David Turrubiartez Jr., a single father, along with his two children moved into their newly built home at The Immokalee Foundation’s Learning Lab —an 18-home subdivision that enables Foundation students following the Foundation’s Engineering & Construction Management and Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathways to work with industry professionals and learn about land development, home construction, marketing and sales.

Our Learning Lab students, alongside BCB Homes, built special modifications within David’s home to accommodate his wheelchair including removable access ramps, wider doors, a reachable thermostat, and a wheelchair-height bathroom vanity. It is the first handicapped-access-built home in The Learning Lab.

What makes David’s home purchase more remarkable is that he is a former Immokalee Foundation student who set his sights early on working in the construction industry. Today, he works in management for a construction rental agency.

“It feels like the full circle that comes around,” said David. If I would have been 10 years younger, someone of this generation-who knows? I possibly could have been building this house.”

Amy Mendez

Amy Mendez celebrates her new home at The Learning Lab with her parents.

Amy’s parents worked hard as farm workers to provide for their family, and always believed that education was the key to a better future. To ensure that their daughter had access to opportunities for higher education, they had her join The Immokalee Foundation when she was in middle school.

With the support of the Foundation’s scholarship program and partnership with Take Stock in Children, she was able to secure enough funds to pursue her postsecondary education at The University of Florida.

After graduating in 2018 with a degree in Psychology, Amy began her career in retail banking. In 2019, she was selected as the Florida Migrant Success Story of the Year and made her way to Lipman Produce where she worked in finance, HR, and operations.

Two years later, Amy moved into her new home built by our students at the Learning Lab. It was only a year after that she joined The Immokalee Foundation as a student advocate where she now supports our students on their own academic and career journeys.

“It is a surreal feeling to come full circle with the Foundation,” Amy said.  “It is fulfilling to give back to a community that has provided so many opportunities to me and my family. My goal is to inspire students to pursue their dreams and  work towards getting a degree so they can be prepared for the workforce.”

Carlos Moreno

Carlos, Immokalee Foundation alum and superintendent of The Learning Lab and his daughter Carol, currently in the career exploration phase at The Immokalee Foundation

Carlos is a BCB Homes employee and Superintendent of the Learning Lab. He teaches and provides hands-on training for our Engineering & Construction Management and Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway students all the tools of the trade in the construction industry.

At age 16, Carlos joined The Immokalee Foundation with the support of his farmworker father and mother. After graduating from Immokalee High School in 2008, he secured a summer internship with BCB Homes—a role that eventually led to his full-time position and current role overseeing The Foundation’s Learning Lab.

Carlos lives in Immokalee with his wife and two children. It was only natural that he would encourage and support his eldest daughter Carol to become an Immokalee Foundation student.

Today, Carol is in middle school, and part of the second generation of the Moreno family to benefit from The Immokalee Foundation’s educational programs.

“As a former Foundation student and current Foundation parent, being the Superintendent for BCB Homes on this project is especially gratifying,” said Carlos. “It’s an honor to have come full circle to train the next generation of construction professionals.”

Noemi Y. Perez

President and CEO, Noemi Y. Perez with Immokalee Foundation students

Noemi’s journey with The Immokalee Foundation began in 2008 when she joined as a student advocate. She worked her way up to VP of Programs, and in 2015, she became President & CEO. Under her leadership, The Foundation has empowered more than 1,300 students each year by providing equal access to quality education.

What makes her journey so remarkable is that she too was raised in Immokalee. She is the students she supports and understands the challenges they face.

For Noemi, returning to her hometown is a blessing. Her role at The Immokalee Foundation provides a unique opportunity to uplift and inspire students who—like her—have demonstrated resilience to face challenges head-on and overcome adversity.

Yeimi Espinoza.

Yeimi Espinoza

Yeimi is an inspiration to our staff and students, and a role model to our community. As an Immokalee Foundation alumna, she is the first person in her family to graduate college and has since dedicated her professional career to making a positive difference in the lives of our students.

Yeimi began her professional career with The Immokalee Foundation as an intern and joined full-time after graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University. Today, she serves as the Foundation’s Program Manager for Take Stock in Children (TSIC) and is preparing to celebrate her 11th year.

Her current role involves recruiting and managing a team of over 100 community volunteers who serve as mentors to help motivate and guide Immokalee Foundation students toward their postsecondary and career goals.

Having been raised in Immokalee and as an Immokalee Foundation alumna, Yeimi understands the value of having a mentor, scholarship, and program resources to help students succeed. In fact, she has personally volunteered her own time to mentor seven students over the past decade.

For Yeimi, the joy of seeing the positive impact that the Foundation has on students’ lives is immeasurable. She is honored to pay-it-forward by managing a program that provides the same life-changing tools that helped her succeed, and she is committed to making a difference in the lives of students for years to come.


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