Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Recuerdo Madrid – Greetings from Madrid!

A first generation college student, Take Stock in Children graduate and 2012 Leaders 4 Life (L4L) Fellow, Alfonso Mejia represents what the TSIC model is all about: when students are provided with support, motivation and accountability, they will excel personally and academically.

A 2012 graduate from Charles W. Flanagan High School in Broward County, Alfonso Mejia is the first person in his family to pursue a college degree.  President of his high school class for all four years, he graduated within the top 2% of his class.  He aims to continue his involvement with student government at the University of Florida, where he is currently studying Accounting and Finance and plans on going to law school to become a lawyer and work in the non-profit sector. 

In an attempt to make the most of his college experience, Alfonso is currently studying abroad at Antonio de Nebrija University in Madrid, Spain through UF’s School of Business.  Alfonso’s family is Colombian, so he is fluent in Spanish, but in an effort to perfect the language and gain an appreciation of the culture, he enrolled in the highest level Spanish course offered.  He explains, “Part of the reason I chose [to study abroad in] Spain was because I wanted to master my Spanish and have a solid foundation [of the language].  Second to English, the Spanish language plays a significant role in the business world and is almost essential [to know].”

Refining his Spanish is just one component to his experience abroad, as he will also have the opportunity to teach children once a week and volunteer to feed the homeless.  “Living abroad has taught me to value other cultures and ways of life.”  It is this altruistic and motivated spirit that sets Alfonso apart, making him a great example of what being a Leaders 4 Life Fellow is all about.

The Leaders 4 Life Fellowship was created in partnership with the Asofsky Family Foundation and recognizes TSIC students who have emerged as leaders.  Of L4L, Alfonso says:

Whenever I feel down, I remind myself how fortunate I truly am.  Being a L4L Fellow means to me a life-long commitment of gratitude and generosity.  The L4L Fellowship was created through genuine principles that must be reciprocated by the fellows.  For now, we must focus on our studies and finish strong, but when we are done with school we must remember where we came from and who gave us the opportunity to be what we will become in the upcoming years.  I plan on giving back to society in the same way that L4L does: giving a student the power of an education.

In the future, Alfonso plans on mentoring youth, starting his own scholarship fund similar to the Leaders 4 Life Fellowship, and one day hopes to be on the Take Stock in Children Board of Directors.  We are so proud of all of Alfonso’s accomplishments and wish him buena suerte – good luck – for the rest of his semester abroad in Spain!

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