I started mentoring Josh Lim in the Winter of 2007 when he was in the 8th grade, while he was at Braden River Middle School. In the Fall of 2007 he started at Braden River High School. In the Fall of 2009 my wife and I had to move to Tulsa, OK, so I would fly back once or twice a month to see him. He graduated in 2011 and is currently finishing up at SCF. My wife and I moved back to Lakewood Ranch in the Summer of 2013 and Josh and I still get together. He is like a son to me.
I am now a Board member with Take Stock in Children and working with Mariela Carrillo to launch the Take Stock in Children Alumni Association. This is such a great and valuable program, we must expand it to touch other young people’s lives. It will also change the life of the mentor.
Getting my Take Stock Scholarship was a complete blessing! Being a teen mom and college student was definitely not in my plans. I imagined myself going off to USF Tampa and living the college life. At first, it was hard to accept that I was no longer a "normal teenager". Learning I was pregnant put a lot of disappointment in my family, especially in me. I was never a straight A student. I didn't participate in many school activities or clubs and I was never the popular girl. I always kept to myself. This way, people wouldn't know that I was pregnant. I was ashamed and felt like such a burden.
One day I realized that I hadn't come all this way in my life to give up. I was blessed with a precious gift and had a scholarship that gave me such a wonderful mentor that believed in me. So, I never gave up. I pushed through all the tears and heartache. I was able to tell my family and loved ones, that I did it! When my gorgeous daughter is older, I'll be able to tell her, that I did it and that I never gave up. When wonderful opportunities like Take Stock In Children come along, you fight your way to accomplish whatever it is you want to do.
My first semester at State College of Florida was harder than ever. I worked two jobs, went to school and took care of my now, 14 month old baby girl. In the end I ended up being on Dean's list with a 4.0. So when I think for one second that I can't do it, I think of all the opportunities I was given because of Take Stock and my little girl. This is when I stand up, brush my knees off and keep going. Thank you Take Stock, my family and especially Mariela for believing in me.
My name is Mariela Carrillo. I am a fourth grade teacher at Bashaw Elementary in Manatee County. However, my story does not begin here. I started out as a student in the Take Stock in Children Program in 2007. I graduated from Southeast High School in the Top 4% of my class. Upon graduation, I went straight into college and completed my A.A. Degree at the State College of Florida in about 1 year. I pursued my dream of being a teacher at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, majoring in Elementary Education. I completed my program this past May 2013.
During my final semester at USF, I went back to Take Stock in Children to mentor Juana Coronado. A Take Stock student who was going through a life changing situation, that was very similar to my own. I have had the opportunity to go full circle with T.S.I.C, as a student and mentor.
Today, once again I have joined the program as one of the Take Stock in Children- Alumni Association Presidents. I have the privelege to work with Brent King, who is also a mentor for Take Stock. We ask for the support of our community in launching the Alumni Association. I feel blessed for every opportunity I have to work with Take Stock in Children. This program is all about changing the lives of the students in our community and I know that we can all make a difference in them!