Volunteer Spotlight: Lester Alemán

The impact of Elevation Scholars would not be possible without the community leaders who give of their time and talents to help advance our mission. We caught up with Lester Alemán, Director, Posse Arts + Puerto Rico Programs for The Posse Foundation, to learn more his commitment to the mission of Elevation Scholars.

Scholars: How long have you served with Elevation Scholars? What initially compelled you to volunteer with Scholars? 

Lester: In 2016, I was approached by Scott for a meeting that left me inspired. At the time, I worked in enrollment management at Rollins College while he was running Elevation Scholars alone. Scott asked for support and advice on codifying and scaling the program, insights on how the college admissions and financial aid process works and insights on how to develop an interview model that brings the best out of a student while also observing the values of the organization. This is the work that gets me excited because, in high school, I earned the Posse Scholarship- a prestigious, national merit-based tuition scholarship- and went to an elite college in Iowa. I know first-hand what it’s like to feel seen in circles that encourage and propel life-changing privilege. As I’ve come to learn, this privilege comes with a greater responsibility to serve the communities I am part of and lift up the most vulnerable members of our society. Elevation Scholars resonates with me because I see myself in the students we all serve together. I’m honored to have seen Elevation grow from a one-person team to where it is today, and am so proud to continue supporting and advising leaders like Scott, Aminah and Gaslande in evaluating, strengthening and scaling the program’s operations. 

Scholars: Why does contributing to Scholars’ mission of supporting high-achieving, high-need college-bound students matter to you? 

Lester: What Elevation does is critical to the success of our democracy and economy. Orange County Public Schools boasts a rich, diverse mix of students, but higher education data shows that many students of color don’t pursue – much less graduate – from four-year institutions. Elevation not only helps resolve issues in college access but, by virtue of sending students to great schools across the U.S., sends a positive message to other students in the public school system that they, too, have all the talent and potential to do amazing things after high school. The City of Orlando can only be as great as its people flourish, and in a true democracy – a government and society by the people, for the people – diverse representation is a key ingredient in leadership pools. I believe Orlando will be an even better city when Elevation Scholars sit at the table where decisions are made, whether in government, nonprofits or the corporate sector.  It might seem like this is only a scholarship, but it’s really a life-changing opportunity for those who get selected and an amazingly positive tool for community development.

Scholars: What is your hope for the future of the Scholars program? Where would you like to see the program 10 years from now?

Lester: I’d love to see Elevation scale up to serve even more students. I’d also love to see alumni even more involved in the recruitment, training and overall operation of Elevation. I think a true indicator of success is when program alumni continue their engagement with the organization post-graduation. Their voice and leadership are going to be critical as Elevation grows and remains relevant in the college access market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.