On May 9th, 2015, Aspire to Inspire celebrated a youth empowerment convention at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. Aspire to Inspire hosted close to 250 students and their parents that were part of a unique and genuine effort to empower students to become college and career ready and paved the way for the organization’s interest in facilitating student achievement and inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit. In numerous workshops and engaging presentations, Aspire to Inspire shared its focus to effectively embark students on a successful academic journey and help them make the right choices as they exit high school, enter college and select a career pathway.
I was invited to participate as a college and career high school teacher in the youth empowerment convention. There was elation even before the doors at Sea World opened to host students from all over Central Florida. Students from public high schools from Seminole, Orange and Polk County marched through the gates with very high expectations of the day’s events and workshops at the convention. Stories mixed with joy and pain were shared in the tables of the conference because on that same week many of these students (primarily Hispanic) had failed the FCAT. Aspire to Inspire’s goal is to provide real alternatives to this ongoing situation in Florida.
During the convention, stories from successful second language learners were featured and provided encouragement for all the participating students. An ESOL student and recent graduate and valedictorian of his class spoke about his attitude towards learning and how language barriers made him stronger and how he was able to compete and obtain a $500,000 dollar scholarship from an Ivy League institution in spite of stereotypes, limitations and ill-fated perceptions connected to his ethnic origin.
In various workshops and appealing presentations, Aspire to Inspire successfully achieved its purpose and broadened its scope as an organization that is willing to supersede its limitations to constructively change and transform education. The success of the convention is the result without a doubt of Aspire to Inspire’s co-founder, Margie Viera, Wendy Rivera, Executive Director of LATISM, and Hector Perez, President of ALPFA. The convention was merely a jump off point for other activities to bridge the gap and elevate student success.
In an era where there are so many distractions, and obstacles thrust into the lives of our students, Aspire to Inspire has decided to move forward and become an organization that fosters student achievement and academic success. In the afternoon of May 9th, students were rewarded with an afternoon at Sea World and its spectacular shows and attractions.
By: Manuel Hernandez @Mannyh32