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Caminos al Futuro - 10 Reasons Why It's a Great Opportunity

Working in and finding government internships can be difficult, especially because a lot of them are pretty localized.  Apart from finding local opportunities, a great way to experience what it’s like to work in the government is to opt for pre-college programs focused on government policy and offer high school students a unique opportunity to enhance their college applications and overall profile. These programs provide experiences beyond academics, showcasing a student's commitment to learning, leadership, and cultural awareness. Among these programs, Caminos al Futuro at George Washington University is an opportunity that offers a fully-funded, immersive three-week experience specifically tailored for rising high school seniors in U.S. high schools.

This blog will delve into the program's structure, costs, topics and curriculum covered, eligibility, prestige, and the top ten reasons you should apply to Caminos al Futuro. 

What is Caminos al Futuro?

Caminos al-Futuro, a three-week program at George Washington University, immerses rising high school seniors in academic exploration, leadership training, and cultural immersion. The curriculum covers topics like immigration reforms, identity, and linguistics through academic lectures and writing workshops, culminating in Community Action Projects. Eligibility requires outstanding academics, a commitment to the Hispanic/Latino community, and application materials similar to a strong GWU application. With a rigorous selection process, including essays and recommendations, participants can earn three college credits, prepare for college applications, and potentially be considered for Cisneros Scholars upon GW admission. This prestigious program offers transformative experiences, hands-on learning, networking opportunities, and cultural enrichment, providing a unique edge for students passionate about making an impact.

How is the program structured? 

The structure of Caminos al-Futuro revolves around intensive academic exploration, leadership development, and cultural enrichment. Throughout the intensive 3-week program, Camino's scholars delve into the impact of social, economic, and political changes on the Hispanic/Latino community. Engaging with university professors and field experts, scholars grasp crucial contemporary issues and initiate projects to catalyze change within their communities.

The program will typically include lectures by leading people in the field and time to explore D.C. with the selected cohort. One participant from 2023, Carmen Colón, writes, 

"Like the college experience, our morning started off with a change in schedule as we had class in the room where we had all been dancing to Bad Bunny and bachata at the silent disco a few nights before. The last class of the program with Dr. Vaquera incited intrigue as topics varying from immigration reforms to race in the schoolyard were discussed. The question of identity has been the center of our classes, and our entire lives. Caminos has let me uncover mine, for which I am so grateful.

The crew shifted campuses as we traveled on the Vex, headed for a CTN session, and went over our individual projects. The end of the week was barreling towards us, and reality hit us faster than the realization of our impending deadlines. Just kidding! We had plenty of time after an amazing lunch to head to our favorite study spot on campus at the Gelman library to work on our projects."

What kinds of topics are covered in the program? What is the curriculum like?

The program's curriculum extends beyond academia, offering Writing Workshops focused on crafting impactful narratives and college preparation sessions led by George Washington University's Admissions Specialists. 

Leadership Development Training sessions cover networking, storytelling, and self-care, while scholars also enjoy social and recreational activities, exploring Washington D.C.'s landmarks and cultural offerings.

Throughout the program's Academic Lecture Series, overseen by Dr. Elizabeth Vaquera, scholars engage in interactive sessions delving into the nationwide political and social shifts impacting Latino communities. This undergraduate-level course encourages all Caminos Scholars to participate actively, analyze data about Latinos in the U.S. and their local communities, and discuss pressing issues.

Under the guidance of Trey Johnston, the Changing the Narrative Writing Lab (CTN) aims to refine writing skills for college success while facilitating the creation and presentation of awareness initiatives known as Community Action Projects (CAP). These workshops delve into identity discussions and the influence of linguistics on modern interactions.

Within the College Prep Academy, GW's Admissions Specialists conduct workshops covering crucial aspects of college applications. Scholars gain insights into application expectations, college access, scholarship opportunities, FAFSA procedures, constructing a college timeline, and navigating college life as a first-generation Latino/a/x student.

Moreover, Caminos Scholars undergo Leadership Development Training to hone their leadership potential. Previous topics covered include Networking, Storytelling, Self-Care in College, and addressing Imposter Syndrome. This training offers practical opportunities for students to apply their leadership skills through interactions with Hispanic leaders in nonprofit organizations and the public and private sectors.

What are the eligibility requirements? 

Eligibility requires candidates to demonstrate exceptional academic ability, commitment to service within the Hispanic/Latino community, and rising senior status in U.S. high schools. 

The application process includes academic transcripts, essays reflecting leadership and community commitment, and recommendations. It's important to note that strong applicants to the program will be similar to strong applicants applying to GWU, so consider looking into successful college applications to compare your work!

Successful completion offers three college credits, college application preparation, and potential consideration as Cisneros Scholars upon admission to GW.

Is it prestigious? 

The Caminos al-Futuro program offers a competitive edge by providing mentorship, specialized coursework, and the opportunity to reside on Capitol Hill. Given its structured format and rigorous application process, it's widely regarded as a prestigious program. The unique blend of mentorship and immersive experience sets it apart, making it a sought-after opportunity for aspiring individuals seeking a comprehensive and impactful experience in the Latinx community and beyond.

What are some tips for being successful in the application process? 

  1. Start the Caminos application process by gathering transcripts, recommendation letters, and essays. Procrastinating could lower the quality of your submission, potentially impacting your chances of selection.

  2. Craft an exceptional essay by showcasing your dedication to serving the Latinx community. Highlight why you stand as the ideal candidate for Caminos. Let your unique personality shine through in your writing.

  3. Ensure your essay is error-free, as punctuation and spelling mistakes can significantly affect its presentation. Your essay mirrors your persona, and these small errors might undermine its overall quality.

  4. Go beyond academics in your application. Display your leadership skills through extracurricular activities and explore other interests and aspirations. Highlight what shapes your identity.

  5. Carefully choose a recommender who can attest to your academic prowess and leadership qualities. Notify them well in advance, at least a month before the deadline.

  6. Seek fresh perspectives by having a teacher or friend review your application. Ask if the essay aligns with the prompt and demonstrates why you're a strong candidate.

Here are 10 compelling reasons to participate in Caminos al Futuro

1. Networking Opportunities: Connect with experts, leaders, and peers passionate about Hispanic/Latino communities. The Caminos al-Futuro program comprises a rich community of scholars, leaders, and mentors who can be useful for your journey into academia. During your time in lectures and workshops, take every opportunity to build your profile through networking with leaders within the community. 

2. Hands-on Experience: Engage in interactive lectures, discussions, and research, developing practical skills. As mentioned earlier, the program utilizes in-person lectures and leadership workshops!

3. Unique Structure: Experience a diverse curriculum blending academic lectures, writing workshops, and college preparation sessions. Although it functions as a college immersion program with classes, the program also uses community-oriented events to allow participants to immerse themselves in public policy amongst their peers. 

4. Leadership Development: Gain essential leadership skills in networking, storytelling, and cultural competence.

5. Cultural Enrichment: Immerse yourself in Washington D.C.'s vibrant cultural scene and historic landmarks. The advent of local tours and an on-site immersion experience provide a rich perspective on Capitol Hill. 

6. College Preparation: Acquire insights into college applications, scholarships, FAFSA, and college life as a first-generation student. 

7. Transformative Experience: Develop critical thinking, broaden perspectives, and refine your analytical skills. Experiences such as presentations of individual projects allow you to practice those analytical and public speaking skills. 

8. Fully-Funded Opportunity: Avail yourself of a residential and academic experience without financial constraints. Since this program is a fully funded experience as opposed to most pre-college programs, this is a great opportunity to participate. 

9. Inclusion as Cisneros Scholars: Stand out as a potential candidate for further recognition upon GW admission. The Cisneros scholar program is designed for GW-admitted students who have participated in the Caminos al Futuro program. If you are interested in applying to GW, the advent of taking part in this program bolsters your application. 

10. Enhanced Profile: Showcase dedication, commitment, and cultural awareness, bolstering your college application.

Our Take

Caminos al Futuro at George Washington University is an exceptional opportunity for rising high school seniors. This fully funded, immersive three-week experience offers a structured program that combines academic exploration, leadership development, and cultural enrichment. With its prestige and comprehensive curriculum, Caminos provides invaluable experiences beyond academics, making it a sought-after opportunity for individuals aspiring to significantly impact the Latinx community. So, seize the chance to network, develop practical skills, immerse yourself in diverse experiences, and stand out with a transformed profile through this remarkable program.

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you're looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research in leadership, linguistics, or policy, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Tenzing Dolma is a master's student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelor's in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!


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