Bright Futures is a local program that seeks to help first-generation-immigrant students to prepare for college, gain admission, and navigate the years they will spend on campus.
The program counsels’ students through the grades of high school. It is sending off its first graduating class.
The coordinator of the program, Rebecca Gonzales, said Bright Futures is organized and funded under the Park City Education Foundation. They began with their first group of students three years ago.
“What makes our program so unique is we’ll not only support them in high school but will follow them all the way until college completion. So our goal is for these students to graduate between the four years of college and come back and you know keep helping mentor other students who are going through the program and looking up to them as a first class.”
She detailed some of the steps the students have to take to qualify.
“They had to do a 250-word essay and meet a minimum of 2.5 GPA or higher. When we review applications, all they have to tell us why they want to go to college. Why do you want to get through college? So, they definitely inspired me and all of their challenges they've had against them to go to college. They are now beating the odds. They really are shining stars in the program and there sharing their powerful message that you can do it too. You can become a role model in the community.”
She said 15 students are in the first graduating group.
Two of the students in the program—Isaac Gomez and Jenny Celestrino—also visited our studios. Isaac said he’s going onto Westminster this fall, and is interested in Communication, with perhaps a minor in Film. He talked about where his financial support is coming from.
“I have direct financial aid from the college. They gave me a generous scholarship. So, my funding is coming from them and then from the Park City Community scholarships and some Bright Future scholarship. I will be working in the summer as well.”
Jennie plans to go to Utah State University and will study International Business.
“I got a needs-based scholarship from the University I'm going to and the community scholarship from Park City High and a Bright Futures scholarship and I will also be working in the summer.”
Gonzales said Bright Futures is important for a community like Park City, with a large immigrant population.
“These students come from families who work here and who support this community. We have to support them to, to go to college. So I'm really happy that they're going to be the role models in within their own family and within the Park City school district. Other people ask how are you making this possible and it's like it takes a village. I wouldn't be able to do this without the support of the Park City High School. They support us and making sure the students are enrolled in high rigorous classes, AP, taking advantage of all of these opportunities.”
The program is also hosting a retreat, taking place this Tuesday, the 21st and Thursday the 23rd.
“We're excited because these students will be doing the retreat with the whole staff and volunteers. They're going to have workshops about ways to navigate higher education. Where to go, the resources, the books, applying for certain things during the summer. A lot of families here in Park City are fortunate to know, but these students they're going to be in limbo and so we want to make sure that we create safety nets. That they know hey, you need to support each other. They're going to build college crews. In these college crews, Isaac, he's going to go to Westminster, so he's going to have his college crew where other students who are also going to Westminster are going to tag team together and solve challenges together that they may face. As well with Utah State, so we’ll have Jennie setting up her college crew as well.”
Gonzales added that also on Thursday, they will have a Family Celebration Dinner, where the parents can talk to other parents whose students have gone through the college process.