By Kellie Dietrich
This article was originally published in Issue 2, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (September 24, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.
Every summer in June, DeSales offers educational enrichment to Lehigh Valley high school students through hosting the DREAMS and Futuros Empresarios (Fé) programs.
DREAMS is run through DeSales and is a week- long program in which students who come from historically disadvantaged groups, such as first- generation college students, Latin Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans and American Indians, take classes related to science, math and English.
Fé is a similar program offered to Latino students with classes geared towards business and life skills. The Fé Foundation of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Lehigh Valley runs Fé, a five-week program. Fé students begin their first week at DeSales with the DREAMS students. The Fé students are then paired up with local businesses and organizations to gain internship experience.
Both programs emphasize how important a college education is, and that it is attainable no matter what background a person comes from.
“My experience in the DREAMS program was beyond words,” said Gricelda Acevedo, who was a DREAMS student in 2014 and is now a freshman at DeSales. “I am grateful that DeSales gave me the opportunity to be here and that so many teachers and mentors told me how intellectual and bright I was. It made me feel like a different person because I personally never viewed myself at that level.”
Acevedo was surprised at how encouraging and friendly everyone at DeSales was, including her mentor, Kristin Fabey.
“Kristin was like a big sister to me and I still think she is,” said Acevedo. “She is still my role model and honestly the reason why I came to DeSales. She said she is studying to be a nurse practitioner and that’s what I wish to be.”
“She helped me through so many hurdles that I had,” she added.
Each DeSales mentor is paired with a group of DREAMS students to go through the program with and keep in contact through letters and texting during the next academic year.
“The DREAMS program definitely enhanced my leadership skills and broadened my horizons about what others go through and deal with on a daily basis,” said Fabey, now a junior. “Also, through the program you become close with the high school students in your group by giving insight and learning from each other.”
During the week of DREAMS and Fé, students and mentors have numerous ways to bond outside the classroom, such as by going to Lehigh Valley IronPigs games, watching movies, miniature golfing and attending an etiquette dinner.
“I decided to be a Fé mentor because my passion lies with helping others to reach their full potentials,” said senior Amy Yusella, who has been a mentor for two years now. “I am a clinical/counseling psychology major and I hope to one day work for a school district where I can reach more teens and young adults and help them reach their goals.”
Ultimately, DREAMS and Fé is a rewarding experience for the high school students just as much as it is for the mentors.
“One of the most memorable moments for me as a mentor actually came after the program itself was over,” said Yusella. “One of the girls I had mentored sent me a photo of her acceptance letter to college along with a message explaing how excited she was. That for me was a huge highlight of the Fé Program and what it can do for students who work hard and pursue their dreams.”