This year former CentroNía student Josse Martinez was among the new 50 Posse Foundation scholars who were awarded a full-tuition merit scholarship to Sewanee: The University of the South. Although for Josse, it wasn’t long ago that going to college seemed like a distant dream. Florinda, his mother, raised him and his brother Chris after separating from their abusive father. At age 6, Josse started first grade at the bilingual charter school CentroNía founded and previously managed. While in school, Josse also attended CentroNía’s before and after school program, Studio ROCKS. Josse struggled to overcome the traumas of his childhood, so he was matched with a school counselor through CentroNía.

“Although this was one of the hardest times for us as a family, the help we received made us stronger and we were able to establish relationships that lasted a lifetime,” said Florinda.

Even after Josse transitioned into middle school, he and his family maintained strong relationships at CentroNía. His younger brother Chris was also enrolled at CentroNía at 3 years old. Florinda also accessed support services through CentroNía’s Family Center. Florinda received help throughout the process of buying her familiy’s home and she received vouchers from CentroNía partner Savers to furnish their home at a discounted price.

“Since CentroNía opened their doors for my family, the teachers and staff have continued to be supportive of my family and helped us overcome many challenges,” Florinda expressed. “They not only helped my children succeed in school, they also provided emotional and financial support when we needed it most.”

So, when Josse started dreaming about going to college, Florinda knew even if she didn’t have all the answers that she could rely on CentroNía to support her son. She set up a meeting for Josse with CentroNía’s Family Center Manager Michael Yacob to discuss the possibilities he had for continuing his education and how he could find financial aid to pay for his dream.

In order to compete for scholarships, Josse was determined to improve his grades. It wasn’t just his grades that Josse improved, he went above and beyond to help out his family too. He got a job working as a dishwasher on the weekends to help his mom with household expenses. Josse then signed up for the DC Student Youth Employment Program where he learned more about the hospitality industry. He did all this while also drastically improving his GPA at school. Michael was very impressed and chose to nominated Josse for the Posse Foundation scholarship and coached him through each round of interviews. In January, thanks to his hard work and dedication, Josse was awarded a full-tuition scholarship and is now on his way to college in the fall.

Josse and Michael posing after the Posse Foundation announced the scholarship awardees.

“Josse’s story is a wonderful example of what happens when parents are engaged in their child’s education and partner with CentroNía to ensure their success,” said Michael Yacob, CentroNía Family Center Director.

Josse and his mom couldn’t be more grateful to Michael and CentroNía for their love and support over the years.  In Josse’s own words, “I can’t wait to start college and make every single one of my mentors proud!”