Press Release (ePRNews.com) - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sep 26, 2019 - Each year, a group of MIT Latino alumni and their friends, known as the Avanza Network (“Avanza”), gather in a selected city to promote the importance of a higher education. Avanza volunteers consist of an amazingly diverse range of professionals, from engineers and scientists to politicians and entrepreneurs. This year’s gathering is happening this week in the beautiful city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In its 8th annual conference, the group will be visiting several area schools as part of their community outreach effort to promote the importance of higher education. One trait the Avanza members have in common is their path from economically depressed or underrepresented communities to completion of advanced degrees. Most were first-generation college students. They bring those stories of grit and resilience to students and show them it can be done. Since 2011, the group has visited and inspired thousands of students nationwide.
“College and career readiness are a priority for Albuquerque Public Schools. We want to make sure all our students graduate with the skills, attitudes, and confidence they need to pursue the education and career of their dreams,” says Raquel Ready, Superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools. “Having role models like the Avanza volunteers, especially those who graduated from our own high schools, will play a big part in building that confidence.”
“I remember sitting in my 11th grade math class when Laura Gomez stopped by and told us ‘I went to Valley High School and now I go to Harvard. If I can do it, then you can do it,’” says Jacob Rael, head of this year’s conference planning committee and product of Albuquerque. “It was at that moment that I started believing I could go to MIT. I am so honored to go back, talk to students and start to pay back all that I have been given.”
As a thank you gift for hosting Avanza, each school visited will receive an Avanza book, a compilation of inspiring life stories of several Avanza members and their diverse paths to a higher education and successful career. Avanza has produced two books, both available at www.avanzanetwork.org.
In addition to visiting with students, Avanza is planning several events throughout town, including a panel discussion that includes several well-known speakers, including Michelle Otero, city of Albuquerque Poet Laureate and Katarina Sandoval, New Mexico Deputy Secretary of Education. Since many of Avanza’s members are entrepreneurs, there will be sessions on entrepreneurship and networking that will include UNM students as well.
“Avanza is thrilled to convene this year in Albuquerque, a true gem of the Southwest,” says Belinda De La Libertad, President of Avanza. “Our members who hail from here have worked diligently to make this happen. The entire group is excited to experience the city, its culture and its history, while at the same time learn about its future, and how we can contribute to that vision.”
Avanza was founded by MIT Mexican American alumni and friends who are dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals and members of underserved communities. Through its grass-roots efforts, Avanza stimulates Latino and underserved communities to achieve their full potential by increasing awareness of the transformational power of a college education, increasing college graduation rates for these groups, and emphasizing the benefits of diverse career paths.