Edgar Murillo (left) and Neftali Gomez (right) with their moms, Felicitas Guerra and Raquel Gomez, at the Berkeley Academy showcase and celebration.

Eight area RCMA students were recently among the first Berkeley Academy graduating class. Two of the students were awarded full scholarships.

These students attended Wimauma Community Academy, RCMA’s local K-8 school for low-income, primarily migrant families, and were part of Berkeley Academy since its inception. 

Ivan Edgar Murillo applied early decision to Tufts University and received a full scholarship; he will study computer science. Edgar came to the United States when he was 11 and did not speak English. He attended RCMA’s Wimauma Community Academy for grades 6-8, where he broke several academic records.

Neftali Gomez received a full scholarship to Middlebury College. He plans to become a cardiologist.

Jonathan Mosso also graduated from the program as a true success story. As of a few weeks ago, it was unsure he would graduate high school. Berkeley Academy staff motivated him to work hard and complete the requirements.

The Berkeley Academy is a free, signature service program offered by Berkeley Preparatory School aimed at helping highly motivated students from low-income households in the Tampa Bay community reach their unique potential and achieve their dream of going to college. The six-year program starts the summer before a student’s seventh grade year and ends upon completion of high school. Selected students are mentored and guided over the course of six years on weekends and during summer breaks so that the learning cycle never ends. 

RCMA partnered with Berkeley Academy at the inception of this program, identifying students at its Wimauma Community Academy who had the desire and academic standing to pursue college. RCMA provides transportation to Berkeley Academy, has staff and board members who attend Berkeley Academy activities to motivate the students and has a graduate support coordinator who works with RCMA alumni while in high school to encourage post-secondary education and careers.

“They were the same kind of people I am, low-income immigration. Being in a community where I felt comfortable was a big help. They made me feel important. It’s something kids from our community need so they feel empowered,” Murillo said about how RCMA helped him when he started at Wimauma Community Academy.

The following students also completed the program and plan to attend Hillsborough Community College: Diana Conteraz Vasquez, Jessica Gamez-Novoa, Melissa Moran, Brian Perez-Acevedo and Destiny Rodriguez.

If you would like to learn more about RCMA, visit www.rcma.org.

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