For the 39th year, students, families, teachers, dignitaries, and others gathered for the Mexican-American Council (MAC) Farmworker Student Recognition Ceremony.
The crowded event with the theme, “Dream Big,” took place this year Friday, May 19, 2023 at Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus.
The ceremony honored forty-two high school and two college graduates who were awarded for their academic achievements and participation in the College and Career Prep (CCP) program. Graduates received scholarships, cash awards, and also new laptops from the Ocean Reef Community Foundation and UnidosUs.
Among the students, two were especially notable.
“Yoseline Perez, a student at South Dade Senior High and Maria Vega, a student at Homestead Senior High School were students that excelled and dominated their school careers. Yoseline and Maria both were honored in receiving special recognition for having two of the highest GPAs in the College and Career Prep Program.
Yoseline is ending her high school tenure with a 3.93 and will continue her studies at MDC Homestead focusing on Anthropology. Maria, with a 3.95, will continue her studies at FIU focusing on Computer Engineering.”
The keynote speaker, former Astronaut José M. Hernández, showed a short video from the STS 128 Shuttle Mission to the International Space Station, where he was a flight engineer. A later slide, “Coming Full Circle”, included a
photograph of him driving a tractor and bottles of wine. This was not from his farmworker childhood in California; rather as the owner of the Tierra Luna Cellars vineyard.
“We always have to have goals and once we achieve them, we have to set new goals for ourselves,” was one of his inspirational comments.
He is also an author, the founder of Reaching for the Stars Foundation, and a movie about his life is scheduled for release on Amazon in September.
Edward C. Garza, Mexican American Council Chief Executive Officer, praised the students’ achievement.
“These 42 MAC Scholars represent the very best of our community. I can't wait to see these future leaders make their impact on the world. We are so grateful to our partners whose generosity and support empowers our work.”
It was a memorable evening for parents like Yanira Perez, MAC Scholar Parent and MAC Family Empowerment Program participant.
“The fact that my children are now part of the MAC program has opened the doors to other career opportunities, universities, but most of all, to see that there is a world of opportunities to which they can aspire.
I want to thank the staff that are part of MAC for the support they have given to many parents, but mainly to our children.” (Translated).
Homestead’s MAC has steadily strengthened their College and Career Readiness Program. As they say on their website: “Ready for life after High School? Join the CCP and empower and enlighten yourself through thought provoking Workshops. Discover new careers and futures through exciting Career Exploration Days! Are you ready for more than just help with homework? This program is open to High School students at Homestead High School, South Dade High School, Miami Community Charter School, and Robert Morgan Educational Center.”
Their summer program includes two different components; classroom settings and other activities or a choice of internships with participating local businesses and organizations. Both options are popular and for the third year, students from Notre Dame University will spend part of the summer with the MAC students. This year, they will all engage in volunteer work in Everglades National Park with the National Parks Association.
MAC recently received five-year funding from the Children’s Trust to allow for two new hires, both former MAC Scholars. Crystal Villasensor, who attended South Dade Senior High School, is looking forward to the summer. “We get the students all day; I have fun with this.”
Gabriel Monjaras came up through the program at Homestead Senior High School, and for Garza, being able to expand their staff is a boost to the community. Their focus will be to increase the number of MAC Scholars within the four schools in continuing to help students achieve success for college, enter a sustainable technology/ trades field, become an entrepreneur, go into the military, or pursue other careers.
For those who may not be familiar with the organization, “The Mexican American Council is nonprofit 501(c)(3) whose mission is to ensure that every farmworker child is provided access to a quality education, the arts, and technology for a brighter future in South Florida. MAC headquarters are in Homestead, FL.”
For more information, visit mexamcouncil.org; 381 N Krome Ave Unit #107 Homestead, FL; Tel: (786) 243-2328.
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