Wednesday, September 11, 2013

FUTURO kicks off third academic year

Group photo, fall 2012 FUTURO conference
By Rebecca Zanolini, Ed.S.

With Latinos increasingly represented on Tennessee’s college campuses as first-time freshmen and first-generation college students, campus organization FUTURO begins the 2013-2014 academic year on seven Tennessee campuses: MTSU, TSU, Lipscomb, Trevecca, Tennessee Tech, Nashville State, Austin Peay, and Volunteer State.

Read below about opportunities to get involved in FUTURO, including two later this month.

Founded in 2011 by Ann Gillespie, CEO of Prolingua Inc., Jessie Garcia Knowles, Caroline Bizot, and State Farm, and inspired by Latino Achievers, a program of the YMCA run by Carol Seals and Kathleen Fuchs, FUTURO is a program of the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce, with a mission "to be intentional with the development of young Latino leaders as they chart their course from college to career.”

The idea is to prepare students for the professional workplace and beyond, with an emphasis on academic success, community service, professional skills development, networking, and mentorship.

As the faculty advisor for FUTURO at Nashville State Community College, I can speak personally about the positive impact our chapter has had on our campus. Starting in the fall 2012, I worked with Admissions Recruiter Chelsee Gray to establish the campus chapter, and the students quickly took to leadership roles and organized several campus and community events. We hold weekly meetings for one hour, and one of our projects is to partner with the career center on campus to do a variety of things like take "strengths" test to see what career might be a good fit, do mock interviews, receive resume writing assistance, and overall career suggestions.

As volunteers, last December we held a holiday/Christmas party for the special needs students at Glencliff High School. GHS is a feeder school to NSCC and has a large Latino student population, and many of our members are GHS graduates. We also volunteered with the Metro Nashville Police Department to help out at the spring community soccer fair and the summer community baby shower. There, we did everything from interpreting (most of my student members are bilingual) to handing out products and tickets, to anything else asked of us. We will be volunteering again on September 21 with the MNPD for the large community Hispanic Heritage Festival in Nashville.

Our work was so appreciated on campus that our chapter won the Student Life, “Organization of the Year” Award for the 2012-2013 academic year. Many of our members kept in touch over the summer planning events and opportunities for the upcoming semesters.

This year - our chapter's second year in existence - we plan on working on mentoring and networking. Students have had the opportunity to meet professionals who support our program, but we want to take it one step further this year by forging intentional mentoring relationships with community professionals and FUTURO members. Furthermore, many of the members have expressed interest in becoming mentors themselves either with YLA or other area Latino high school students.

Beyond the NSCC chapter, FUTURO gathers all chapters together twice a year for a professional workshop conference. Our fall conference is coming up on September 28. Influential professionals with a Latino interest come and speak to the students and help us during our break out sessions. For example, Metro Councilman Fabian Bedne spoke at our inaugural conference.

Students interested in joining a FUTURO group, establishing a chapter on your campus, or interested in serving as a mentor may e-mail Araceli Vazquez at

Contributor Rebecca Zanolini, Ed.S. is an Instructor of Spanish and Faculty Advisor to FUTURO of Nashville State Community College. She has written for about such diverse subjects as violence against women, Conexion Americas' new home Casa Azafranchildren in migration, the Super Bowlpaying taxes regardless of immigration statusYMCA Latino Achievers, the Metro Council Minority Caucus' Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, Williamson County Librarian Lupe Veloz, and her own "Costa Rican rebirth."  

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