Celebrate new horizons for U-Lead students

Supporting U-Lead Athens is part of the immigrant justice mission of Oconee Street UMC. U-Lead Athens began in August 2014 to provide college mentoring, access, and scholarships to Athens-Clarke and adjacent county students who are un(der)documented immigrants (and thus banned from UGA and charged three to four times in-state tuition elsewhere) or children of immigrants. 

U-Lead would not exist without the support of OSUMC. The church provides the space for the group to meet every Thursday evening from 6 to 8. In addition, the church sponsors the biggest scholarship fundraiser by donating the proceeds of “Parking for God” on football Saturdays, when Lew Allen, U-Lead students, and church volunteers help tailgaters park on church property for a donation. 

U-Lead recently thanked the church, giving particular recognition to those who track donations and write checks; make sure the facilities comfortably accommodate students, families, and volunteers; team up to provide delicious dinners; tutor, coach, mentor; donate supplies and drive students to meetings; contribute to our scholarship fund; and provide free expertise to renew DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) so recipients can get work permits and driver’s licenses and are safer from deportation.

Jocelyn Crumpton, a member of the U-Leadership Team, has become an expert in helping students navigate financial aid and escorted two nervous but determined young women to attend orientation at Dominican University in Chicago. 

Now, meet some of this year’s graduates:

16 Athens-area 2022 high school graduates will attend college this fall, joining 44 current college students. All have U-Lead scholarships. 

  • Juan will study biology at Eastern Connecticut, and Esmeralda will study graphic design.
  • Keren is pursuing a nursing degree at Piedmont. 
  • Great will study computer science at Berry, Jorge at Christian Brothers University. 
  • Danna is attending Athens Tech to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. 
  • Emely and Mari will attend Dominican University, studying photography and psychology.
  • Victoria will study at Athens Tech to become a veterinary tech, while Stephanie will pursue accounting there.
  • Melisa will attend Georgia State to study criminal justice.
  • Adrian will enter the engineering program at UNG.
  • Friends Ariana and Nancy will study animal health together at UGA, where Daniela will pursue elementary education and Stephanie, biology/psychology. 

2022 College Graduates (including two summa cum laude) include:

  • Roberto Carlos Villanueva, Christian Brothers University, chemistry/math, R&D Chemist at J Strickland and Company
  • Alfredo Luna, Athens Technical College, marketing management, receptionist in ATC President’s Office and Public Relations
  • Dibenhi Reyna, Athens Technical College, business management/human resources, local dealership
  • Keyri Teran, UGA, human development and family science
  • Luis Villacorta, Stetson, biochemistry, grad school
  • Andrea Bobadilla, Stetson, education
  • Candy Mundo, UGA, Human Development and Family Sciences
  • Melissa Iniestra, Kennesaw State, computer science, Accenture
  • Liza Sanchez, Christian Brothers University, business administration/marketing/graphic design
  • Yareli Lopez Hernandez, Eastern Connecticut State University, biology/bioinformatics, grad school
  • Yoana Trigueros, Athens Technical College, esthetician
  • Balbina Ramos Suarez,  Delaware State University, accounting, tax associate with Price Waterhouse Coopers

Donations to U-Lead Athens Scholarship Fund can be made via:

  • Venmo @u-lead-athens
  • Zelle using our email account uleadathens@gmail.com
  • CashApp $ULeadAthens
  • Mail a check to U-Lead Athens, 130 Hope Ave, Athens GA 30606; or
  • Contact us to set up a recurring payment via PayPal or directly from your bank. 

If you are interested in donating appreciated stock, contact Eddy Ariail, Raymond James Financial Services: Phone: (706) 543-6578 / (800) 476-4699 or send an email: ed.ariail@raymondjames