Norwalk Community College is the right place for me

photo-3---Edwar“Going back to school, I had mixed emotions, I was excited but also nervous about the transition to college,” Edwar Orantes said as he headed down the Future 5 stairs on his first day headed to Norwalk.

Edwar first arrived at Future 5 halfway through his junior year at West Hills High School. An affable, big-hearted kid who loved wrestling and football, he won “The Heart of the Viking” award for team spirit after his senior year. But he was unsure of his plans after graduation and debated whether or not college was even the right “fit” for him. Clif McFeely took Edwar under his wing, attended all of his football games and coached him through the college application process, until he finally decided that NCC was the school for him.

Edwar is enjoying his third week of freshman classes as a Restaurant and Food Service Management major with hopes of graduating with an Associate’s Degree. He is taking Principles of Food, College Writing & English, Number Sense/Pre-Algebra, and Freshman Seminar.

Edwar continues to climb the Future 5 staircase and has shared his plan to transfer to Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island after NCC to continue his culinary education. His dream is to own his own restaurant. Bon appėtit, Edwar!

Future 5 Hires Three

new-faces-at-F5-Sept-2014-sqFuture 5, a nonprofit that helps motivated, low-income high school students in Stamford, CT graduate and connect to a better and sustainable education and career path, announced the hiring of three new additions to their staff: Jane Kessler Hickok, director of operations, Thomas Agosto, director of students and Ellen Berube, student advocate.

Fairfield resident Jane Kessler Hickok joins Future 5 from her previous position as public relations coordinator at Meadow Ridge, a retirement community in Redding, CT, where she managed communications, social media and community outreach. As the owner of Writers Ink, an editorial services company, Jane worked as a freelance developmental editor and copy editor for several large publishers. She was formerly a copy editor for Air Age Publishing and executive editor of Policy Review, a publication of The Heritage Foundation. Jane holds a BA in English from Denison University.

“We accomplish a great deal, servicing more than 100+ students and ensuring that each one of them graduates from high school, with a very small and efficient staff and the hub of all activities is with the director of operations,” said McFeely.

Agosto, a Norwalk resident, attended Norwalk Community College and finished up at the University of Connecticut, where he earned a BA in psychology before attending Fairfield University where he earned a Master of Arts in school counseling. Prior to Future 5, Agosto was employed at Wallace Middle School located in Waterbury, CT, where he was a guidance counselor for eighth graders preparing them for high school. He also brings international experience to Future 5 as he worked with youth as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica from 2011 through 2013.

“Thomas’ experience makes him an ideal candidate to be our director of students, a newly created position, that will allow us to more closely focus on each individual student and their progress throughout the academic year,” added McFeely.

Agosto will be responsible for Future 5 student services such as recruitment and tracking, liaison between Stamford’s four high school communities and Future 5, and coaching our students as they create a game-plan for a successful transition from high school to college and beyond. He will also work closely with Future 5’s volunteer coaching staff and facilitate workshops and guest speaker appearances for its student membership.

New Canaan resident, Ellen Berube, graduated from Elon University in December 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in education and will report to Agosto in the role of student advocate. Berube will work alongside Agosto, the coaching staff and directly with student members to ensure their participation in Future 5’s after-school workshops and the implementation of each student’s game plan.

Berube has elementary teaching experience in the Longmeadow, MA public school system as well as Gibsonville, NC. After graduating from Elon she traveled to Tanzania where she spent three months with the Tanzanian Children’s Fund, working and living in an orphanage with 7 to 14 year old girls. Berube then volunteered in a two-room primary school on the island of Man-O-War in the Bahamas. She has also spent time tutoring and training personnel in Haiti and is excited to be focusing on recruiting and working with the high school members of Future 5.

“We’re thrilled to be able to hire Jane, Thomas and Ellen. This is going to be a dynamic year for our Future 5 student members,” said McFeely.

If you are interested in learning more about Future 5 or volunteering to work with their high school student members, call (203) 358-8787.

Finding Future 5

Six months ago, I drove out of a middle school parking lot disheartened and discouraged about what was going on in our school system. Surrounded by constant negativity and criticism about our students, staff, community and administration, I decided that I would not return the following year as a school counselor. Discouraged by the lack of resources available to our students, I decided to leave the public school system and return to the non-profit sector, leaving behind benefits and summer vacations.

Not knowing where I would end up, I climbed the stairs at 135 Atlantic Street to interview with Clif McFeely for the position of Director of Students at Future 5. From the moment I walked into their space on the second floor, I noticed a warm, spirited environment in which highly motivated students walked in the door and were greeted by an energetic and caring staff. The idea of assisting students to reach their potential, despite their socio-economic background, rejuvenated my passion for working with youth. Three months have passed and I am even more inspired by the possibilities of Future 5.