Destinos Brillantes

June 2018

Hello again!

The Jóvenes Adelante office has been “all hands on deck" as we continue the process of selecting this year’s intake of students. This is always an especially busy time of the year, and a push – through the hot season – to finalize selection before the rains start! Here are the highlights of our recent activities:

  • Profile of the Month: Norma Xochitl Saavedra Landeros
  • Student Successes!
  • JA Graduates Meet
  • Resource Development
  • Student Selection Update
  • Our Mentor Team Needs You!
  • Administration Matters

Profile of the Month

Xochitl Saavedra Landeros was still in primary school when she started dreaming of making a difference in the world. In Grade 8, she announced to her father she wanted a career and that she was determined to go to university. Her father took her at her word, and rose to the challenge by waking her up early on school-day mornings to teach her to cook, saying, “If you’re going to be independent, you’ll need to learn to feed yourself!” Over the next five years, she learned to cook while excelling in her studies, and won several scholarships on graduation. And her parents – a gardener and housekeeper – saved what they could.

Xochitl (“Sochil” to her friends) initially enrolled in business administration, hoping this flexible career path would open doors to something she could really sink her teeth into. She worked hard and did well, but worried about depleting her parents’ resources, since her younger sister was likely university-bound as well. She also kept scanning the horizon for a better career fit and when she saw the announcement of a new program, “Renewable Energy,” she knew she had found her calling. Fortunately, she discovered Jóvenes Adelante at the same time and was selected for a scholarship for the coming year. Through the Jóvenes Adelante program, Xochitl was matched with mentor James Olsen, whose support and friendship she relied on for more than four years. She also established an enduring bond with her friend and informal mentor, Jock Whitehouse.

Xochitl moved to Queretaro, adapted quickly to her new program, loved the content and achieved outstanding grades. Unfortunately, however, by the end of the second year, over half her classmates had lost interest or failed; the program -- left under-subscribed -- was forced to close. Undaunted, Xochitl successfully competed for entry into a similar program in Guadalajara, a more expensive city and even farther from home. She secured additional scholarship support through Guadalajara state government and never lost sight of her dream. In 2015, Xochitl graduated with flying colors.

Now back in San Miguel, Xochitl is turning her passion into action through the development of a multi-dimensional recycling program. In spite of working full-time to accumulate capital, she has transformed a plot in Col. San Luis Rey into a recycling depot. She has installed containers for short-term storage of glass, plastic, tin, cardboard, household appliances and electronics, as well as bins for composting of kitchen waste. Although her vision is to provide compost to families in the campo, her first priority is economic viability, so kitchen waste will be collected for a small fee and the compost sold to nurseries in town. Agreements with scrap dealers will generate a small income.

To further ensure the viability of her business, Xochitl has invested in a small tienda that will sell low-cost, energy-saving devices and recycling supplies (worm composting systems, compostable garbage bags, home storage containers, etc.). She is putting the finishing touches on the site now and aims to open in late May. Her Facebook page “Protejamos Reciclando” is active – updates will be posted there.

Jóvenes Adelante is proud of its role in supporting Xochitl, one of several graduates who have become the next generation of Mexico’s entrepreneurs.  Recruitment of mentors for this year’s intake of students is currently underway. For information about becoming a student mentor, or volunteering with or donating to Jóvenes Adelante, please see or call the office at150-0030.

Student Successes!

Name: Nancy Morales Mendieta

Major: Administration of Tourism Resources

University: Universidad de Guanajuato

Campus: Guanajuato

Grad Date: June 2020

The end of Nancy’s semester is filled with papers and final exams. Most interesting is her research on the origin of the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato. Among many projects, she's also doing a research protocol on the city's heritage, learning about the guidelines and criteria established by UNESCO. She has submitted her final 'Lodging Companies' paper, a thorough investigation of the operation of a hotel; she and a partner did their project on the Guanajuato Mission Hotel. She is busy busy busy and a little nervous/anxious with so much to do, but I know she will do well.

Name: Cesar Granados Estudiante

Major: Mechatronics Engineering

University: UTNG Universidad Tecnológica del Norte de Guanajuato

Campus: Dolores Hidalgo

Grad Date: August 2021

Cesar is both an excellent student and fine person. He helps at home, tries not to add any complications to his family, is happy and has achieved excellent grades this term. We discussed his opportunities for social service, and how his high school teacher had invited him to talk to her students who were considering dropping out. After the talk, he met those students again and he was very proud to learn that none of them dropped out. He thinks perhaps his community work will be visiting schools to talk about the challenges of life and how to succeed as a student.

Name: Andrea Daniela Colunga Navarro

Major: Biomedical Engineering

University: UAQ Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro

Campus: Querétaro

Grad Date: December 2018

Andrea is very close to her graduation now and is excited about graduating. She is currently doing an internship at the General Hospital in Queretaro. She is really enjoying time in the hospital and has been able to observe some surgeries. She is fascinated by this entire experience. She enjoys the people in her group. She may have a summer job working in the hospital. I think she has adapted really well to her hefty workload. She is an exemplary student from my observations, and having taught high school for many years myself, I can say with confidence that she is really an outstanding student with great study habits and organizational skills

Name: Jonathan Emmanuel Salgado Yáñez

Major: Mechanical Engineering

University: Instituto Tecnológico Sanmiguelense

Campus: San Miguel de Allende, Gto.

Grad Date: May 2020

Jonathan has completed his exams and has been engaged in finalizing several very complex projects at school. He started to work at SSC Group, an engineering company that provides simulation solutions in the automotive industry. They create systems that help manufacturers evaluate how their cars or products will perform in the real world. Jonathan worked on a car door sealing simulation which was subjected to different deformations and extreme conditions. He is now in charge of preparing the materials for the coming courses which will be given to engineers.

Name: Cynthia Rodríguez Álvarez

Major: Marketing

University: Universidad de León

Campus: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

Grad Date: April 2022

Cynthia has been able to quit her part-time job, and now has more time to do activities related to her education.  For example, she is involved with an SMA group called La Liga de La Juventud.  This group (approx. 50 students) is invited to forums and workshops with local and national politicians running in the July 2018 election. This will be her first time to vote and she's excited to be active: hearing their platforms, asking questions, and writing about it.  In one forum, the students were even allowed to sit in the press section -- a big deal!

Name: Luis Fabián Arroyo Ferreyra

Major: Public Accounting

University: Universidad Tecnológica del Norte de Guanajuato

Campus: Dolores Hidalgo

Grad Date: August 2020

At the present time, Fabian is undertaking his professional practice at the Rosewood Hotel in SMA, working Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 6 PM.  He's learning a lot and been able to apply much of what he has studied.  The Rosewood provides meals, a uniform and a stipend every 2 weeks.  He truly likes the work environment and being there.  He would like to return to this Rosewood when he finishes university because he sees great opportunity for work and personal growth.  In addition, he likes that they have many hotels in different places like Cancun, London, Hong Kong. 

JA Graduates Meet

Took place at the end of April — a fun event attended by 15 graduates. It was a chance to learn what our grads are doing and to launch the development of a Graduate Network. Our goal is to create a formal structure that helps keep our graduates in the JA family. Over the coming months, we will learn more about their experiences of transitioning to the workforce and how we might better support that process.

Over time, we hope to harness their passion and loyalty to assist our efforts to recruit, select and mentor new students. And perhaps most importantly, this structure will help us collect data on longterm outcomes of the JA program. Stay tuned for more progress on this front!

Resource Development

Now in its final days, the Betse Davies Special Stars Fund campaign has raised approximately $19,500 against our $20,000 target at the time of this writing. This will allow us to provide extra financial support to exceptionally qualified students who face unusually severe challenges. Any surplus funds raised will either go into reserve or be reallocated to other special funds. We are grateful to all of you who helped make this critical campaign a success!

Student Selection Update 

Our aim is to enroll 27 new students this year, and we are well on our way to that goal.  Of the 137 applications we received, 69 passed our initial screening. A thorough review of these produced a shortlist of 34 students who were then called for interviews.

On May 26 and 27, six teams (of two volunteers each) conducted interviews, meeting with 23 prepa students and 11 students already in university. These teams are now conducting home visits to the same students they interviewed, and their results are due June 28. This year’s intake will be confirmed on June 30!

Our special thanks go out to the student selection team: to Laura and Diana, whose efficient efforts far exceed what their job descriptions require; to Esther and Jorge, who continue to provide tireless, hands-on guidance to the entire process; and to our selection team volunteers who shoulder the workload alongside us.

Our Mentor Team Needs You!

Our Mentor Team is ramping up! Are you Spanish speaking and committed to mentoring a student?  WE NEED YOU. Please contact the office to find out more about our mentorship program.

Administration Matters

We have been working hard to update our social media presence. In case you missed the announcement, we launched our new website on May 1 — check it out! We now have a Facebook group and an Instagram account to help us all stay in touch with each other.   Our special thanks goes to Matt Robertson for his leadership and expertise in this area!
Contact Us
415 150-0030 Office
415 117-3006 Cell

512 221-1687 USA/Canada

Staff Email Addresses
Executive Director Angie:
Student Programs Manager Laura:
Student Programs Coordinator Diana:
Administrative Assistant Mayra:

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