By Josh Siatkowski | Intern
From pioneering Spanish-led tours at local colleges to planning a new mentorship program, Navegando has been active in promoting positive futures for high school students who are immigrants in Waco.
“We want [students in Navegando] to think, ‘Maybe there’s more for me to become in America. Maybe the American dream is possible for me,’” Ilda Sabido, a board member for the Hispanic Leaders’ Network, said.
Sabido and other members of the Hispanic Leaders’ Network started Navegando in fall 2022 after finding that students who were immigrants and bilingual were underserved in Waco.
“We asked teachers if they knew some students who would need some mentors. We didn’t want to recreate the wheel and serve students who were already served,” Sabido said. “We found that [immigrants] were a group that were not being mentored — not on purpose, but because of language barriers.”
Navegando brings Hispanic professionals of all vocations to Waco high schools to share their stories with immigrant students. Sabido said she was always looking for “any and every profession [she] could think of where there were Hispanic people who [the students] could look up to.”
At the end of a successful first year, Navegando worked with Baylor’s admissions department to provide a Spanish-led tour of Baylor for over 70 immigrant students.
Edinburg senior Vicky Gonzalez is the secretary of Baylor’s Hispanic Student Association and works in the admissions department as a Baylor Experience and Admissions Representative. Gonzalez said having a tour like this was new for Baylor’s admissions department.
“We’ve done one-on-one tours in Spanish, but this was the first group tour in Spanish,” Gonzalez said. “The Spanish tours are geared more toward the families, but this was the first group that was actually geared to students.”
Since then, Navegando has helped immigrant students connect with other local colleges, like McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College. Navegando now looks to add a new way to impact the community by working with Baylor’s Hispanic Student Association to create a college mentorship program.
Sabido said there are numerous challenges involved with establishing a program in which college students can help younger teens, but she said she hopes it can be up and running by fall 2024.
“Maybe when [the students in Navegando] get to school, their story will inspire another student … kind of like a pipeline,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez and Sabido said they have pride in what Navegando has already accomplished and hope for its future endeavors.
“Being the first of its kind to a group that has been left out — not purposely but because of the language barrier — I think that’s how we’ve made an impact,” Sabido said. “We’re still learning, and there’s still so much more we can do.”
For more information and volunteer inquiries, Navegando can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.