In 2008, Diane Meiller-Cook, owner of Diane Meiller and Associates (DM&A) developed a mentoring program for high-potential, under-served girls in their junior year of high school. Over 400 girls from Orange County Public Schools have participated in the program, which was designed to provide an opportunity for “under the radar” young women to work side by side with our region’s most successful female executives and community leaders to identify, assess and develop solutions to our region’s current and most pressing problems. Thanks to our program partners, the 50 plus students who participate each year, representing all 23 public high schools in Orange County, and the dedicated me and my commUnity team, the program reaches and inspires more young women every year. Once again, this year’s three-day event exceeded our expectations.
Partners like Orange County Public Schools, who actively engage high school counselors to identify applicants, and the Dr. Phillips Arts Center, who opens the Center to host a pre-session orientation have provided essential support for the program’s success. Our appreciation extends to our other partners like AdventHealth for their continued commitment to host the main event every year, and Valencia College, our partner for me and my Future.
Along with the eight me and my commUnity mentors this year, there were multiple keynote speakers who included: Barbara Poma former owner of Pulse Nightclub and President of onePulse Foundation, Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe, Dr. Maria Vazquez, Deputy Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, Lavon Bracy Davis, Director of Community Relations at Dr. Phillips Arts Center, and Kim Bell, Vice President of AdventHealth Cardiovascular Institute. They shared their life stories and inspirational messages on the value of optimism, work ethic, mentors, perseverance, education, and commitment to making a difference in the community.
Amy Bonilla, a former participant in the 2011 me and my commUnity program joined five other panel members this year who provided college and professional advice to this year’s students. She was a junior at Boone High School in the Finance magnet program as well as an ROTC cadet. Following her participation in the program, her passion for the community was heightened and she decided to attend University of Central Florida, because she wanted to make an impact in her community. After a successful four years as a campus leader and community advocate. Amy accepted a position as a Sourcing Specialist with NextEra Energy. We were thrilled to have her attend this year’s me and my Future as a member of a panel of speakers consisting of former program participants, college students and professionals who shared their personal journeys and advice to those just beginning to plan for their future beyond high school.