Overview: AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute (AGUILA) is a unique college access program for Latino/Latina youth providing a web of support that contributes to academic personal and professional success.
AGUILA was a dream of Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez more than 20 years ago that became a reality in 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona. The concept developed from her education and many experiences working with youth. She felt strongly that youth, particularly Latino youth, were in great need of assistance in the college planning process. AGUILA is a unique program that promotes cultural heritage, academic success, civic engagement, leadership, positive self-esteem, and healthy relationships.
AGUILA increases college enrollment and, more importantly, graduation rates for Latinos/Latinas. They do not believe their approach is "rocket science." They believe they are moving forward because they are stepping back to their roots, beliefs, traditions, values, and determination, which is so much of who we are as a people. Program Content: Students engage in various opportunities toward the development of a personalized path to success. It is accomplished through a comprehensive experience derived from research and guidance by experts in many areas that help our students prepare for the college experience.
Partial list of content offered: Unique seminars with professionals, educators, and leaders; PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation; critical thinking; writing camp; academic advisement and personal coaching; tutoring; mentoring; college search; scholarship search; financial literacy, budgeting, and investments; personal development, life skills, and fitness programs; healthy relationships; annual educational summit; summer leadership symposium; college tours; personalized college connections; service learning; internships; ALMA (AGUILA Latinas - Maravilla de Arizona); AGUILA Men of Honor; Alumni Association; and Parent University - APAC (AGUILA Parent Advisory Council).
Structure: Students begin AGUILA as Freshman in a Familia (Cohort) attending monthly seminars focusing on personal growth, leadership, and college preparation that continues throughout their high school experience. Upon completion of their Senior year, students are honored at a special celebration each May, marking their Rite of Passage from high school to college at the AGUILA Honors Convocation. AGUILA then provides follow-up and continued support for students through the Alumni Association and participation in ALMA and Men of Honor.
AGUILA has been well received as a unique and innovative program with tremendous potential based upon its success: students received close to $8 million in scholarships above federal aid packages in 2012 alone, and more than $28 million in scholarships in 7 years. Students come to AGUILA with a strong desire to succeed. They have received recognition for their many achievements as evidenced through invitations and enrollment at a growing list of colleges and universities, which includes all Arizona schools and many renowned universities across the country.
Student Requirements: The only requirement to join AGUILA is a desire to go to college.
Areas Served: AGUILA serves students enrolled in high schools within the state of Arizona, with a concentration in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. AGUILA is currently expanding to rural Arizona communities, such as Globe, San Carlos Indian Reservation, Nogales, and Wickenburg among others.
Words cannot express my gratitude for the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute (AGUILA). Having been born in Chihuahua, Mexico, I struggled to learn the language, but after a few years of school, I discovered that I was capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to. My parents had always been supportive of my decision to attend college, but they could not provide me with resources, since neither one of them made it past the 6th grade. In 2005, as I was approaching my senior year, I thought I was going to be attending the closest community college, which was forty-five minutes away from my hometown of Wickenburg, Arizona. Coming from a small town, I felt the need for programs such as AGUILA.
After hearing about AGUILA during a summer program at Arizona State University, I quickly applied and was accepted to take part in the first AGUILA cohort. My parents would drive every third Saturday of the month from Wickenburg to Downtown-Phoenix, because they saw the impact AGUILA was making in my life. AGUILA provided me with the tools, resources, and a support group to reach my full potential. AGUILA also provided me with a sense of belonging and the pride to never forget where I came from.
Soon after graduating from high school, I was accepted to Arizona State University on numerous scholarships. I began my undergraduate career as a business major, but later discovered that my heart and passion was not in business. I graduated from Arizona State University in December of 2010 with a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish. Soon after graduating I was accepted into the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College - Higher and Post-secondary Masters Program. I will be completing my degree this August 2012.
I have found my true passion in life, and I am thankful for what AGUILA had done for me. I am very grateful for programs such as the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute, because if it was not for AGUILA I would not be half the person I am today. It has been six years since I took part in AGUILA, but I still come back to share my story with the students. I am appreciative to have had the opportunity to pay it forward by being a Residential Assistant (RA) for the AGUILA Youth Leadership Symposium, an AGUILA Faculty member, and finally, to have been able to complete my practicum hours with them. AGUILA has been a second family, as many of my closest friends have come from this program. I hope to one day become a high school counselor or become a coordinator to programs such as the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute.
Rogelio Ruiz - AGUILA Cohort 2006