Three months ago, Arcadia announced a new scholarship program to support students of excellence at the Immokalee High School in Florida. Named in honor of Walter Blankley, husband of Rosemary Deniken Blankley ’57, who has been instrumental in creating the program, the scholarships are awarded to students who participate in the Tutor Corps at the Guadalupe Center.
Earlier this month, President Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III and his wife, Kim, visited Immokalee as part of their first swing through Florida attending the annual alumni reunions. They toured the Guadalupe Center and learned about its academic and leadership development programs, especially the Tutor Corps.
The Tutor Corps has become a national model because of the way that it engages the students, their families and the school, and use the high school students to teach grade school students, serving as role models as they do so. As the Guadalupe Center website notes, “[f]or the past six years, 100% of Tutor Corps students have graduated from high school and were accepted to college. 93% of Corps members have gone on to college and 94% have successfully graduated.”
The Oxholms met the school’s leaders, three of the program’s board members and several Immokalee High School students who are part of the Center’s Tutor Corps, including two who had not only applied to Arcadia but been admitted. A total of seven students have applied—the first ever from this high school—and as of the time of this article, four had been admitted and three were under review.
The Blankley Scholarships will be awarded once all applications have been acted upon. This scholarship includes tuition, fees, room, board and airfare for two round trips between Florida and Philadelphia. It will be awarded to three students in the Tutor Corps program at the Guadalupe Center.
Home to an agricultural market where only “32.8% of residents 25 years and older hold a high school diploma or higher,” Immokalee has historically stunted academic growth for its now college-bound Tutor Corps students, according to the Guadalupe Center’s website. The mission of the Center is to break the cycle of poverty that perpetuates throughout Immokalee by providing educational, social and other support programs and resources to impoverished children and families.
In addition to tutoring elementary school students as part of members of the Tutor Corps, these students have actively participated in student government and community service and many have participated in summer pre-college programs across the United States. One admitted student had just received a statewide award for excellence in service to community from the Miami Dolphins’ charitable foundation, earning herself what President Oxholm called a “huge statewide recognition for herself, her school and the Tutor Corps.”
After school, she tutored five-year-old students, which ignited her passion for education and her excitement for Arcadia University.
According to the Tutor Corps Program website, “for over seven years, the Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program has been helping Immokalee high school students prepare for and enter colleges and universities all over the country. Tutor Corps is successful because of countless volunteers who, like the Blankleys, invest time, energy, and resources in the belief that education is the great equalizer that opens the doors of opportunity for all.”