"We have developed a wonderful relationship with UVU. They are starting a Latino leadership program and it will be a support system to help the kids in college," Williams said. "I am absolutely positive that eight of them will start college in the fall. The other three are going to start a little bit later. Their plan is to earn some money before starting school."
To be eligible to participate in the program, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 Grade Point Average throughout the year and commit to volunteering after school several days a week. Williams said this year the students have logged an average of 120 service hours.
"The service component is required in the class. Sometimes I require the students to translate for parent-teacher conferences or volunteer for Running with Ed, so students know that it's a part of what we do," Williams said. "I think it's really important that we get out there and the community sees us as contributors."
This year, the seniors applied for several scholarships, another requirement for the program, and Williams said every senior was awarded scholarship money.
"I require my students to apply for at least three scholarships if not more, and most of them apply for five or six. We spend some time in class writing college essays and navigating through the application process," she said. "I say if you can keep your GPA up and remain in the class then your chances for getting a scholarship are great."
Students in the program don't talk about if they will attend college, but where they will attend, Williams said, adding that it's not an option.
"This is something you absolutely must do. Knowledge is power, and if you want to serve at a higher level you have to have higher education," she said.
Williams said she received more than 40 applications for the program next year, and due to the GPA and service hour requirement, 25 students were accepted, including several new sophomores coming from Treasure Mountain Junior High School.