Destinos Brillantes

August 2018


It’s August already! We have had a busy couple of months, and want to fill you in on our progress:
  • Profile of the Month:  17-year-old Austin entrepreneur supports SMA peers through Jóvenes Adelante
  • Student Successes! 
  • Student Recruitment Update
  • Fundraising & Development Update
  • Administration Matters
  • Recruitment! Student Relations Coordinator

Thank you for supporting JA in so many ways  it’s your dedicated volunteerism, and your monetary and in-kind contributions, that make our work possible.


Sue Leonard

Jóvenes Adelante

Profile of the Month: 

17-year-old Austin entrepreneur supports

SMA peers through Jóvenes Adelante

Seventeen. Bright. Personable. College bound. And already her heart is with those less fortunate.

Gabriela Reyna has just finished a summer vacation with her extended family in San Miguel de Allende. Her grandmother lives here, as do many cousins, aunts and uncles. Gabriela’s mother moved from San Miguel to Austin, Texas, at age 15 to finish high school in the United States. She is now a naturalized US citizen. Gabriela’s father, also naturalized in the US, is from the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras.

When Gabriela contacted me, nothing about her email revealed her age; she simply wanted to advise me of her intention to donate 10% of her business profits to Jóvenes Adelante and to meet. As I entered Starbucks and looked around, she introduced herself, then graciously offered me tea or coffee, adding that she would ask her father to bring it to me.

I like to think I did not skip a beat, and of course I did not yet know just how young she was.

As we talked, she began to tell me more about herself and her family.

About to turn 18, this poised and ambitious Mexican-American high school graduate is set to enter St. Edward’s University in Austin, on scholarship. Not content to leave additional costs to her parents alone, she will use her new business to generate funds for her expenses. An athlete for years already with bad knees from injury, she wants to be a physical therapist, so she is majoring in kinesiology and minoring in business.

Encantada Austin, her new business, launched only this past spring. She imports goods purchased mainly in San Miguel de Allende for resale online or in pop-up stores in Austin. Her biggest client-base demographic so far has been Austin grandmothers who buy colorfully embroidered children’s clothes for their grandkids. Next up: embroidered jeans. Her first donation to Jóvenes Adelante was $100 USD.

Jóvenes Adelante is not Gabriela’s first encounter with non-profit social consciousness. She was moved when her community raised over $100,000 for a classmate's college fund after sharing their plight. This was perhaps her first exposure to the power of mutual giving and how people can join financial resources for collective good.

At 17 years old, after volunteering with everything from gardening to gift-wrapping, she is already on the Board of Directors of Austin Community Steelband, an Austin nonprofit providing classes and transportation for disadvantaged youth playing steelpan instruments.

Gabriela knows that her studies will be her first priority, but she has no intention of giving up her business or discontinuing her extracurricular work helping others. And she wants to expand her cross-border connections - in whatever form - with her peers in SMA.

An inspiration to those around her, Gabriela also is being mentored by her boss, Nina Berenato, owner of a handmade jewelry store that gives back and empowers the women’s community. Gabriela learns from and surrounds herself with sources of inspiration, including her parents - not fortunate enough to go beyond high school, but who instilled a powerful drive to succeed, to go farther and to give back.

“I feel blessed and fortunate” Gabriela says. When she looked around at how to give back to her SMA roots, she seized upon her peers via Jóvenes Adelante. She recalls her own family’s struggle to support several university-bound cousins in SMA. Whatever else the family did, Gabriela asked “Why stop with one person?”

Gabriela embraces JA’s vision of providing scholarships, mentors and other means of support to disadvantaged, local honor students. And giving a percentage of her profits is only the beginning. She intends to help JA not just financially, but by spreading the word about its work, perhaps opening a social media dialogue between Austin and SMA students.

Jóvenes Adelante is proud, honored and grateful to welcome Gabriela’s support and passion.

Encantada Austin can be found on:

Student Successes!

Name: Cynthia Rodríguez Álvarez

Major: Marketing

University: Universidad de León

Campus: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

Grad Date: April 2022

Cynthia is wrapping up her exams for this quarter — all 9's and 10's so far, with one more exam to go.  She feels she has her class projects under control and she continues with DuoLingo for English practice. She is still VERY shy about speaking English (although her writing is better) but she has been making contacts for free conversation classes.  On the personal side, Cynthia voted for the first time in the July 1st nationwide election — she was elated to participate!

Name: Daniela Elizabeth Monzón Cabrera

Career: Touirsm Administration

University: Universidad Tecnológica de San Miguel de Allende

Campus: San Miguel de Allende

Daniela started a class called "Travel Agency" where she is learning to book flights and put together packages for both national and international tourists. Her class is planning on taking one of these trips as a group! She recently attended a large Rosewood Hotel event - a wedding with 600 guests - where she played several roles and was able to observe the event manager while the event was in progress. Event management is a major area of interest for her, and she was really impressed with how much an event manager must keep track of and supervise. She continues to take Painting as an elective class and is surprised to find a whole new part of herself (and of the world) to enjoy through painting.



Name: Vicente Espinosa Ramírez

Career: General Psychology

University: Universidad Patria

Campus: San Miguel de Allende

Vicente has developed new and more
effective study strategies, and feels more
settled into the growing demands of his
university program. As a result of this,
leaving some activities behind,
and giving priority to his studies, Vicente's latest grade average was 9.4. He is now preparing for the next partial exams period and is confident that he will achieve good results.

Name: Moisés Gamboa Mendoza

Career: Systems Engineering

University: Instituto Tecnológico Sanmiguelense

Campus: San Miguel de Allende

Moises continues to do very well with his classes. He has moved into the 2nd level in English. Moises has opened an actual "brick and mortar" location in his hometown from which to operate a small business, a papeleria (stationary store), alongside his computer repair service.

Name: Diana Susana Gómez Chávez

Major: Pedagogy

University: Universidad Allende

Campus: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

Grad Date: July 2021

Susana's dream is to pursue a career in early childhood education. This came about as she was helping her youngest brother with a difficult transition from preschool to primaría. She is in her second year of university, happy with her choice of major, and confident about her abilities to do well academically. She lives with a sister in a community that requires her to make a 40-50 minute commute but she feels its manageable. She is working full-time this summer and will continue part-time once school begins, as she did last year. 

Name: Shalma Muñoz Gallegos

Major: Nursing and Obstetrics

University: Universidad de Guanajuato

Campus: Celaya

Grad Date: August 2021

Shalma finished last semester with an average grade of 9. During her summer vacation she worked at La Comer supermarket. Always looking ahead, she is trying to get permission from the university (which will require taking an exam) to do a hospital practicum during Christmas vacation. This will lessen the impact of doing 12 hour shifts (with only a half hour off to eat) during her 2nd-semester exams. She started her third year on Aug. 6 and is now learning how to be helpful to families when a patient dies, and is taking a course in pediatric illnesses. Her class and hospital practicum schedule sound incredibly busy but Shalma is not complaining!



Student Recruitment Update

We are proud to announce that we have finalized our 2018 student selection process! We are now busy inducting 24 new students into the JA family. We are also holding a place and funds for 2 students provisionally who hope to enter the school of their choice in January, 2019. Our new recruits range in age from 18 to 21 years old, with young women outnumbering young men slightly by 13 to 11.  Twelve of our new recruits come straight from high school while the others have already started university. As always, career choices range widely and include Mechanical Engineering, Law, Architecture, Software Engineering, International Trade, Medicine, Business Administration, Education, Dentistry, Nutrition, Finance, Environmental Engineering, Tourism and Biotech Engineering. Most of our students will begin school in late August or early September.

Fundraising and Development Update

Thanks to the generosity of our many donors, our 2018 Sponsorship drive met its goals, providing sponsorship commitments for a 2018 intake of 26 students. In addition, we met our special goal in raising $20,000 USD for the Betse Davies Special Stars Fund. These funds will support new and continuing students who need additional financial assistance. We are so grateful to all our donors for their continued confidence and support and for making entry of our 2018 class such a success!

Administration Matters

The office has been very busy planning and implementing Student Orientation and New Mentor Orientation days, and ensuring that each student has been matched to a suitable mentor.  Computers have been purchased and set up according to each student’s needs, and most students have already received them.

Recruiting! Student Relations Coordinator

On the staffing side, it's with mixed emotions that we bid farewell to our Student Relations Coordinator Diana Cadena. Diana came to us upon receiving her Education degree (as a JA scholar!) two years ago. Planning to spend only a few months helping out in the office, she quickly made herself indispensable.  Diana now wishes to pursue her chosen career. We will miss her but wish her all the success she deserves! We are currently recruiting for her replacement (Coordinator of Student Relations) and welcome the support of our readership in circulating the advertisement: If you know anyone who would do well in our hard-working and warm-hearted team, please send them our way!
Contact Us
415 150-0030 Office
415 117-3006 Cell

512 221-1687 USA/Canada

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