Romona's Kids: Esperanza helps students go to college

Romona met with the girls before they headed off to college. (WOIO)
Romona met with the girls before they headed off to college. (WOIO)
Romona talking with the girls about their goals. (WOIO)
Romona talking with the girls about their goals. (WOIO)

For three young friends, heading off to freshman year of college is especially bittersweet. All their lives, they've helped each other get to this moment, but they'll be separated for the first time. We went to the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland to meet Romona's Kids.

Jamie Rivera, Guadalupe Rogel, and Daniela Bravo are lifelong friends who graduated at the top of their class, and will be the first in their families to graduate from college.

"We've always wanted to go to college to lead a better life than our parents had, all the struggles that they've been through," said Rogel.

"I used to watch movies and see college and I would tell my mom I want to do that and my mom said 'you have to get good grades and you have to have goals," said Rivera.

The girls worked at the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Cleveland as part of the Summer Scholars Program.

"The Fed has taught me that to grow, you need to network," said Rivera.

"We're also learning how to better present ourselves, and how to speak properly be on time every day, and be responsible in our tasks," said Bravo.

"They have taught us a lot about how friendship can really help empower your learning and empower your strength as you move on in your life," said Kelly Banks, Vice President of Community Relations, Federal Reserve Bank.

All three earned college scholarships. Rogel was awarded a full ride to Columbia, where she'll major in Urban Studies. Bravo will study Criminal Justice at Baldwin Wallace University. Rivera will major in Psychology and Sociology at Hiram College.

They give a lot of the credit for their success to the nonprofit organization Esperanza, which promotes education in the Hispanic community.

"They helped me be a leader, they taught me that I have to make things happen, and I have to rely on other people sometimes, to help my dreams come true," said Rivera.

"It helped shape my career goals," said Rogel. "I want to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector much like the Fed."

But it's also great to have good friends, who have your back.

"We've always been supporting each other, we've been our own moral support, and we have always been encouraging each other.

The girls are looking forward to staying in contact and helping each other through college.

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