Return to Headlines

Wayfind Class of 2024: inspiring futures, celebrating success

On April 26, 18 seniors from Forest Hills High and Monroe High attended a ceremony at Wingate University's Batte Fine Arts Center to celebrate their completion of the Wayfind program. Wayfind, a partnership between UCPS and Wingate University, pairs middle and high school students with mentors to prepare them for college. The program represents a gift of college and a promise of a better future, especially for potential first-generation college students.

During the ceremony, Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan gave program highlights. He said, "I'd like everyone to remember that the first year these students entered the program, in 2021, was the first year we were emerging out of the pandemic. Despite the challenging time, the class is graduating with an overall GPA of 3.8. All 18 have also committed to continuing at Wingate University. The value of their scholarships is about three million over four years. The mentoring side of this program is what truly sets Wayfind apart. Congratulations on your success!"

Scholars Melany Paiz-Hong of Monroe and Liliana Perez of Forest Hills spoke about the program and their experience. Melany recalled that before applying, she did not know much about the program except that it offered a college opportunity. With limited proficiency in English, she relied on Google Translate to assist with her essay. Now, she was confidently speaking in English to a group of people. 

"Then I understood the scale of the opportunities it would unleash into my life and the lives of the scholars now on the verge of graduation. Every mentor who has guided me has left a valuable impression on my life. Each was different and valuable. I believe it is easy to see the negative side of things and miss the best parts. I will be the first one in my family to go to college. My parents know I will have a better life and financial independence because of this scholarship. It changes lives, opens doors and expands horizons." 

Melany continued by explaining the many things she learned, from crocheting to managing her time and improving her study skills. She emphasized her desire to be a resource to other bilingual students in the program.  

Liliana also expressed her gratitude and excitement for the next chapter in their lives.

"Wayfind has taught me the importance of being prepared for college. It has also helped me take the steps to my future career. We've been able to sit in on college courses. I also want to acknowledge our mentors who have been on this journey with us from the beginning, teaching and inspiring us. Congrats Class of 2024!

At the end of the ceremony, each graduate received a medallion to wear at graduation as a symbol of their accomplishment. 

Monroe High

  • April Castrejon
  • Lidia Cajija-Perez
  • Alexis Maldonado
  • Melany Paiz-Hong
  • Rogelio Ramos-Reyes Jr.
  • Ashley Rivera-Cuamacateco
  • Hugo Reyes-Garcia
  • Malik Simpson

Forest Hills High

  • Melissa Gomez-Laguna
  • Caroline Helms
  • Kayla Luna-Maldonado
  • Raul Mancilla-Nava
  • Amari Marshall
  • Morgan McCain
  • Rossy Moreno-Hernandez
  • Liliana Perez-Melchor
  • Michelle Saucedo-Castillo
  • Francisco Son-Ramirez