The Aguila Youth Leadership Institute recently celebrated 13 years of success in helping Arizona students from low-income communities reach higher education. At the 8th annual luncheon held at the Heard Museum, Willmeng and corporate leaders were honored for supporting the program and alumni were recognized for their active roles in the community. Willmeng Project Manager, Pablo Sandoval, spoke at the event as a Class of 2007 graduate.
“The program is an investment in the community,” said Sandoval. “Our children are like seeds that need to be watered so that they grow and flourish. AGUILA helps bridge the gap between high school and college for students, that for lack of opportunity, resources, or knowledge, may not know how to get there.” He says that many program participants are the first generation in their family to go to college.
Sandoval credits AGUILA for helping him obtain a college degree, and has stayed involved with the program through faculty membership, mentorship and volunteerism with his wife, Cassandra. The program proudly boasts more than 1,300 students who have enrolled in 89 colleges and universities across the U.S., having received over $75 million in scholarships that go beyond financial aid.
“Willmeng has sponsored the program for four years because it prepares students with valuable qualities and skills that universities are looking for in scholars, and that influential companies are looking for in employees,” said Willmeng President, James Murphy.
The program allows for 9-12th grade students to attend monthly seminars with a focus on personal growth, leadership and college or career preparation enhanced with related activities, events and experiences. Students are exposed to many local and national leaders, educators, resources, programs and organizations providing additional support toward academic, personal and professional goals. To learn more about the program and to become involved, visit http://www.aguilayouth.org.