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Thirty high school juniors and seniors participating in TIF’s Career Development Program interacted with some of the area’s top business leaders, sharing their goals and ambitions for the future. The business executives shared stories of their own experiences and provided real-life lessons important in helping students prepare for their own transition to college and beyond.  Prior to the afternoon’s reception, students were treated to an etiquette luncheon and training by Dawn Magaril and Dirga Buwana, at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples. After, students were ready to practice their skills and were prepared to ask questions about their prospective career paths.

Kenia Jean-Pierre, a senior at Immokalee High School (IHS), aims to attend community college to become a paralegal, and then transfer to Florida State University to study criminal justice and international relations. Ultimately, she wants to become a judge at an appellate court.

“TIF has helped opened my eyes,” she explained. “Coming from a small town, I had small views. TIF gives me hope and makes me believe if I work hard, I can achieve my dreams.”  She added that, the training and reception helped highlight the culture differences between her native Haiti and the United States. “In Haiti, looking in the eyes of an adult is disrespectful; yet in America, it is a sign of confidence,” she said.

Jean Alex Baptiste, another IHS senior, hopes to attend Edison State College and major in criminal justice. He said that TIF helps the students learn about different career opportunities and the networking reception provided a better point of view. Maria Sebastion-Jimenez, an Immokalee High School junior, wants to major in nursing at Edison State College. She was happy to be a part of the day’s activities. “Today’s event has allowed me to meet new people and feel more comfortable,” she said. “The business leaders have inspired me to reach for my goals and not give up.”

Manuel Ramirez, an IHS junior, learned how to interview, along with the importance of money and time management — all helpful tips in preparation for his future. He wants to major in business management at University of South Florida. The students also came to realize that impressive social skills make a noticeable difference in the business community. Anita Munoz-Trejo, a senior at IHS, aims to attend Florida Gulf Coast University, majoring in health science. She said she learned the importance of good manners, which will help her confidence when dining at a business event. Edwin Herard, an IHS junior, learned something equally significant, “It’s important to major in something you love, follow your heart, set goals and prioritize yourself.”

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