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Luis Persistence StoryEven though struggle is a part of life — and something that usually makes us more resilient — it’s easy as a young person to perceive hardships as failure, threatening the feeling of shame. An important lesson while growing up is to understand that just because you fail or struggle that doesn’t mean you give up. Ideally, one is given guidance and tools that will help in their journey of persistence.

Part of HOLA’s mission includes the phrase “nurturing environment” and while our alumni aren’t here anymore, we attempt to continue that cushion of support. Daily, HOLA’s College Success team, Kevin Franco, Ashley Frohlich and Erika Rodriguez are reaching out, corresponding, visiting, and supporting the large network of young adults. And, since social media is the easiest way to communicate with most millenials and the team was planning the annual alumni reunion brunch, they decided to launch their first campaign with the theme of “Persisting with Courage”.

Emulated in the same vein as bestselling “Humans of New York”, “Humans of HOLA” (or #HumansOfHOLA) is a collection of posts that feature staff photos and stories of persistence and courage.

“The #HumansOfHOLA campaign aims to show to our alumni the spectrum of persistence that is in our community,” Kevin wrote in an e-mail to his fellow colleagues. “It is to show that even we, as role models and educators, have faced hardships and persisted through them. We hope that by exemplifying vulnerability and courage, our alumni will feel empowered to persist in their own hardships, shamelessly and strategically.”

HOLA staff’s response was overwhelming. Kevin kept the formula for each one the same, with their story, photo and definition of the theme and posted each to a private Facebook group for Alumni.

“Persistence is a word that has been a part of my life for as long as I had memory,” shared Luis Ramirez, PAT High School Coordinator.  “I have persisted through socioeconomic barriers. I have  persisted against inequities which are continuously present in multiple ways…I continue to understand such persistence every day by keeping focused on multiple goals, both short and long-term. This keeps me in persistence.”

Over 100 alumni attended the annual reunion this year!

Over 100 alumni attended the annual reunion this year!

On the day of the brunch, 100+ HOLA alumni attended and eagerly delved into conversations revolving around the persisting with courage theme. As they ate delicious frittatas and breakfast potatoes, they vented about college woes, remaniced about old times and heard Tony Brown speak about the many twists and turns of his career before landing at HOLA. 

“If I had tried to map out my career path when I was your age, it would have been impossible. You meet people. You notice that you’re not happy in the job you thought would be enough — that Sunday nights, there’s a knot in your stomach, that you’re dreading going to work tomorrow. This is when it’s time to try something else. You realize what’s important to you and what gives you meaning, even if that means a pay cut,” he said.

“Humans of HOLA” didn’t just teach our alumni about persistence, it was an opportunity for our staff to reflect on our own humility, bravery and what it really means to be a role model.


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