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Juntos Academy caps yearlong program with college experience

Juntos Summer Academy group photo of students

Nearly 70 high school students from eight North Carolina counties will experiencing five days of college life at NC State University July 9 – 13. These students have spent the past school year participating in The Together for a Better Education Program (Juntos para una Mejor Educación) – better known as Juntos (‘Together’ in English) – designed to help Latino high school students and their families find their way along the path to higher education.

Juntos joined NC State’s Division of Academic and Student Affairs in early 2019.

Diana Urieta, Juntos program senior director and co-developer, explains, “Students have been presented with resources, tools, knowledge, and experiences during the school year that supports academic success and higher education. The Academy is Juntos’ way to end the program year with experience at NC State as a college student. We want Juntos students to leave the Academy feeling and knowing they have a place in higher education. We want to normalize higher education for them and make it real as they interact with Latinx college students, professionals, and others.”

“We want Juntos students to leave the Academy feeling and knowing they have a place in higher education.”

Diana Urieta, senior director and co-developer

Alex Henriquez, a team captain at this summer’s Academy, will be a freshman at East Carolina University this fall majoring in mechanical engineering. “Being part of Academy this year as a team captain assistant is really exciting for me, as it is my third year. This year will be special for me because I’m going to show how Academy impacted me, and share my journey in high school and as I head to college next year.“  

Each day of the Academy has a different focus:

  • We Are – supporting students experience of on campus and also creating opportunities to reflect on their identity;
  • We Create – creating an idea for their weeklong project and experiencing different careers and higher educational opportunities;
  • We Care – emphasizing careers in environmental science and agriculture;
  • We Connect – learning to network and meet others who have walked in their shoes; 
  • We Share – presenting their project and Academy experience to parents and partners who come to the final day. 

The projects students will create involve representatives from each of the eight counties inventing business idea that would benefit their community. Participants will pitch their idea to a ‘Shark Tank’ panel and the best idea will win $2,000 seed funding, provided by Thread Capital, a nonprofit subsidiary of the NC Rural Center, to start their business. This organization had partnered with Juntos to see the project come alive.

Thread Capital is willing to continue the partnership beyond the Juntos Academy to work through the school year with those groups that want to see their business ideas become a reality. It’s all about creativity, resourcefulness, and partnerships.

“Academy can not happen without the support of our planning committee members who all come with a future vision for our Latinx youth. This committee consists of people within the community, including professionals inside, and outside of the university. This is a true partnership of people coming together who believe in the importance of giving students an opportunity to visit a university and feel welcomed.”  Urieta said.