Earlier this summer, Florida C.A.N.! visited students in Naples and Miami to record their stories of being the first in their families to attend college. On camera, these promising college students and recent grads spoke movingly about the mentors and organizations that aided them in finding scholarships, navigating the application process and helping them realize their dreams.

In Naples, we stopped by the offices of Champions for Learning, an ally in Goal 2025.  Champions for Learning also oversees the Collier County branch of Take Stock in Children.

The innovative program pairs future first-generation college students with dedicated mentors as early as seventh grade. Johnathan Franco, now a mechanical engineering major at the University of South Florida, recounts how the program exposed him to robotics at an early age and helped him to become the first in his family to attend college. Kiara Gonzalez-Duran talks about life at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where she plans to use her double-major in psychology and elementary education to return to her community as a school teacher. Maria Reyes, now a sports management major at Florida Gulf Coast University, reflects on how her mentor not only guided her through college applications, resumes and essays but became like a trusted family member, helping her to navigate a major transition in life.

Tomorrow, we will introduce three more videos from college students and recent grads who are the first in their families to attend higher education in Florida.

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