Isla Mujeres Scholarship Program

What it is:

High School is not free in Mexico. The cost is approximately $50 per month and on an island where the average daily wage is $8, this can be a huge strain for some families.
We have matched up people who travel frequently to the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, (Islaholics) with students on the island to provide financial assistance for high school and college expenses. Many of our students not only excel, but have gone further with their education than they ever dreamed possible.
As sponsors, we are proud to help such deserving students and watch them succeed. The relationships that are formed between the sponsor family and the student family result an enhanced cultural understanding and a rewarding friendship.

From Maggie of La Gloria English School:

“Gabriela, David and Felipe are three high school students on Isla Mujeres who have been recipients of scholarship funds.  They are all graduating in June and are looking forward to next year.  They all want to go to college in Valladolid – about 2 hrs from Cancun in the Yucatan.  Gaby wants to go into “Education Science”, Felipe would like to study Communication Arts and David would like to study Tourism Administration (business Admin?).   All 3 seem motivated and are extremely hopeful that they will be able to continue their studies.

Here is what they need:
On Wednesday – they will need to pay the initial registration of $1200 pesos ($100) each to get themselves enrolled.  They are hoping they will get help with this, but I have told them to assume they will have to find the money themselves.  I said I would ask you for it, but not to count on it.

When classes start in August, it will cost them about $200 USD per month for registrations, tuition (they are separate here!) and living quarters.  On top of that will be all the living expenses including food, which they think their parents, can, help them with.”

I co-sponsor Alejandra who is going to university in Merida. I met her and her family last month while I was on Isla Mujeres.

One interesting thing that I learned about most Mexican university programs like the one that Alejandra is attending is that it is a strict 4 year program. There is no stopping in the middle of it. If a student drops then later wants to complete the program they must start from the beginning. This is very different from the USA college system where many students take much longer than 4 years to complete their  studies to receive a degree.

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I finally met the Isla Mujeres student that I sponsor

Along with two other women I have sponsored Alejandra since March 2008. Alejandra has been going to university in Merida for 2 1/2 years. She is studying to become a kindergarten teacher because “everyone needs to start school.” Alejandra studies hard and has received excellent grades. While she was home on Isla for Christmas break one of my co-sponsors Wanda and I made arrangements with Maggie (La Gloria English School) to meet Alejandra and her family for breakfast. We met yesterday at Bistro Francais for breakfast with Alejandra, her sister Nidali and her mother Juana. Juana sells pareos on the road to Playa Sol. Juana works on 100% commission and was struggling to support Alejandra’s school and living expenses. Maggie has known Alejandra and her family for many years and reached out  for help so Alejandra could stay in school.

With Maggie’s help we were able to communicate quite well with Alejandra and her family. She plans on staying in Merida after she gets her degree and has already found a school where she would like to teach. Alejandra’s 17 year old sister also has plans to attend the same teaching program in Merida after she graduates from high school. 7 year old Nidali is  an excellent student too. She recently received a diploma for outstanding math scores.

One interesting thing that I learned about the university program that Alejandra is attending is that it is a strict 4 year program. There is no stopping in the middle of it. If a student drops then later wants to complete the program they must start from the beginning. This is very different from the USA college system where many students take much longer than 4 years to complete their  studies to receive a degree. This is why it was so important for Maggie to find sponsors for Alejandra. The $200 US that we give to Alejandra monthly helps her stay in school and takes much stress out of her mother Juana’s life.

Alejandra, Nidali and Juana

Maggie from La Gloria English School

We talked about many other things about island life but that is for another post.

If you are interested in finding out how you can help an Isla student stay in school please  email me.