The Donna High School Ambassador Program is only four years old, but it’s so successful, the program is attracting attention from other Valley schools. In fact, the DHS program is being replicated at several campuses.
The Ambassador Program was created at DHS in the fall of 2013. It began with 25 ambassadors and now has 40. The members are juniors and seniors whose primary role is to help freshmen succeed throughout their high school years and college career.
Four sponsors oversee the program including Donna High School teacher Erika Guerrero. She said one of the program’s objectives is to help the freshmen transition from a middle school setting to a high school environment. The ambassadors explain to the students what campus resources are available, when they should see a counselor or dean of instruction and what questions they should ask. “The program aims to educate the freshmen so that they can be better prepared for life beyond high school,” Guerrero said.
The ambassadors also educate the students about the five exams they’re required to take during their high school career. They also encourage the freshmen to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. If they do well in the PSAT test, they could be awarded scholarship money and receive an honor of “Distinction” which they can include in their college applications.
The ambassadors also talk to the students about the career and technology fields and what opportunities are available such as Pharmacy Tech Programs and other medical courses.
Donna High School Principal Nancy Castillo said the ambassadors have positively impacted so many students over the years that other school districts have reached out to them to find out more about their program. They include campuses from Weslaco, Valley View, Santa Rosa and Mission. “Although we stress academics, we always provide support for students with book readings using Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, which helps students to apply personal leadership principles to the tough choices they face every day,” Castillo said.
The ambassadors benefit from their own work as well. Many have included their participation in the program on their scholarship applications. As a result, two former ambassadors were awarded scholarships from the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars Program. Others were accepted to the colleges of their choice.
Donna High student Esmeralda De Hoyos said she thoroughly enjoys being an ambassador. “This program has helped me prioritize my time and manage it more effectively,” De Hoyos said.
Guerrero is proud of what the ambassador’s program has become. “This program won’t be possible without the commitment of the ambassadors and the sponsors,” Guerrero said.