Chapman School spreads holiday cheer to teens in foster care.

When Educate Tomorrow, a mentoring program for teens aging out of foster care, approached the Chapman Graduate School of Business in the College of Business Administration about hosting its holiday party, the staff leapt into action. In just a few weeks, they pulled together an evening of games, raffle prizes, goody bags, and a step performance by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sisters that catapulted participants out of their seats. Burger King and local party planner Signature Gardens lent their support to the evening’s festivities.

José de la Torre, former dean of the Chapman School, addresses the attendees at the Educate Tomorrow holiday party. (Ralph Ventura Photography)

The party, said Senior Manager of Graduate Recruiting Priscilla Ferreira (MSHRM ’06, MBA ’00), was the first public event held in the Special Events Center of the new College of Business Administration Complex. The location seemed apt, she said, given that the event coincided with the departure of Chapman School Dean José de la Torre, who had championed development of the complex and was gratified to have his tenure end with such a meaningful gathering in the space.

De la Torre provided attendees with a moving account of his early struggles in life, how he came to the United States in 1960 with very little money, and how he worked as a dishwasher to put himself through college. He urged audience members to set their sights high, suggesting that the “only limitations we have in this world are those we place on ourselves.” He spoke of education and hard work as “enabling you to do anything you desire to do,” and added that “while material things come and go, an education stays with you.”

Staff’s enthusiasm for event reflects sense of connection, belief in mission.

Ferreira recalled that the period leading up to de la Torre’s leave-taking was “a very emotional time for our staff,” but that they “channeled those feelings into creating a memorable event for Educate Tomorrow.” They pitched in to purchase raffle items and prizes and worked to have specially designed backpacks—brandishing the Chapman School and Educate Tomorrow logos—made for all attendees.

“The event really highlighted our closeness and the level of enthusiasm we feel about our mission,” Ferreira said.

Games and activities kept everyone amused. (Ralph Ventura Photography)

The school will explore the potential for future partnerships that capitalize on the natural connection between its and Educate Tomorrow’s shared goals of expanding educational access to students from all backgrounds.

“We’d love to have these young people consider Florida International University as their first choice for college,” Ferreira said. “I think we made a lasting impression.”

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