Thank you Christine for sharing your experience as a sponsor with us.
How and when did you first hear about the Isla Mujeres Scholarship group?
I first heard about the program in 2014 from my good friend Jana Epperson. She has been going to Isla for about 20 years and always spoke highly of the good work the program does.
Why did you decide to become a sponsor?
I decided to become a sponsor after visiting for the first time in 2015. I was able to spend time with several of the volunteers and hear firsthand the impact the scholarship fund has for the students. We are fortunate in the US that college education has become something we simply expect to have access to, so it was both inspiring and humbling to realize how hard these young adults have to work to make that a reality where they live.
How many students have you sponsored? If only one, who is the student?
I sponsor one student, Fabiola (Fabi). I asked to join her team because she is studying Criminal Justice, which is what my daughter received her degree in in 2012. Again, I thought about my daughter’s college experience and the relative ease she had navigating the process compared to the obstacles Fabi faces.
Have you met your student while you were visiting Isla Mujeres?
I did get to meet Fabi, which was such a joy! I actually met Fabi and her mom at the scholarship party held at Maggie Washa’s last year in Isla. It was truly a wonderful experience to hear past and current students speak about what the program has meant to them. Without exception, every student spoke about their gratefulness to the sponsors. There was also a true and deserved sense of pride in their voices – for current students when they talked about their academic accomplishments, for graduates when they shared their new career paths. Two things stick out about that day as poignant and extraordinary - first, the mentoring role that seemed genuinely organic between the graduates and current students. Secondly, when I was speaking to Fabi’s mom (with Fabi translating), I told her how as a mom I could relate to her pride as my daughter was the first in our entire extended family to graduate college. Fabi began to translate, then paused and said, “actually my sister also went through the program and already graduated so I’m the second who will graduate.” I was simultaneously humbled and delighted by the pride in both their eyes.
I think there are many worthwhile causes to contribute to, but I’ve not seen any that can match the impact and reach that this one, especially for such a relatively small monthly investment. And it truly is an investment. On that note, I’m hopeful I will be bringing on a new sponsor by the end of the summer!
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I am Jackie Conlon. I have been an active student sponsor since 2007. I have personally seen how this program has changed the life's of the students and their families.