Al Exito: Inspiring the Next Generation

[Editor's Update: Al Exito hosted its workshop at South Tama County High School earlier today, and it was a huge success! Congrats to this inspiring group of Grinnellians.]

On Wednesday afternoon I had the privilege of sitting down with Yesenia Ayala ’18 and Alfredo Colina ’18, both first generation Latino college students. Throughout the year, they have served as interns for Al Exito through community service work-study at the college.

Al Exito is an Iowa-based organization that provides mentoring to Latino/Latina middle-school youth to provide guidance and encourage them to pursue a college degree. However, Yesenia and Alfredo have added a new dimension to Al Exito.

"[Latino/Latina] parents believe the language barrier is so intimidating that they don’t even approach it,” says Alfredo, but what both him and Yesenia want to convey is that 'there is always someone who is willing to help'". 

They have designed workshops for Latino/Latina parents that are aimed on educating them about the college application process with a focus on essay writing, the Common App, and how to apply for financial aid. Yesenia and Alfredo, as well was two other Grinnell interns, Athena Carlson ’15 and Louisa Silverman ’15, will be traveling to 8 of the 9 Al Exito sites on Saturdays throughout the spring semester to host the workshops. Alongside the Grinnell interns will be 25 volunteers from the college and Grinnell community, such as bank representatives, to discuss financial aid, professors to aid in essay writing, and college counselors.

The workshops will begin at 8:30am, and continue throughout the day until 5:00pm, offering both breakfast and lunch to those that attend. The workshops will also offer daycare as an additional incentive for parents to attend.

Tomorrow marks the first Al Exito Saturday workshop, and Yesenia and Alfredo are anticipating between 50-150 people to attend. When I aksed if they were ready they looked at each other and shared a smile, returned their gaze in my direction, and confidently confirmed they were prepared for the first workshop.

Al Exito is still looking for volunteers, so if you are interested, contact Yesenia and Alfredo at [alexito].