PARK CITY, Utah. – Bright Futures, a Park City Education Foundation program, invests in students like high school junior Jessica Hinojos to help them take college preparation into their own hands.
“[Bright Futures is] such a good support system to have in high school,” Hinojos said. “I feel like if I wouldn’t have taken Bright Futures, I would have been completely lost.”
Hinojos, a student at Park City High School, has been thinking about her college career since 9th grade; her current top two colleges of choice are the University of Utah and Westminster College. She plans to study ethnic studies and political science.
She said Bright Futures taught her that it’s okay to ask for help from others and use the resources available to her best advantage.
Bright Futures begins for students in 10th grade and continues until college graduation. The program starts recruitment in 9th grade during springtime, as students prepare to transition out of junior high. Currently, the program mentors 90 students, 27 of whom are enrolled in Utah colleges.
“The social and emotional pieces where the Bright Futures program steps in, it’s just kind of that special sauce that helps students,” said Kara Cody, programs director with the Park City Education Foundation. “[Bright Futures] empowers Park City’s first-generation, low-income students to succeed in and graduate from college. The program makes a long-term commitment to students providing counseling and support.”
Bright Futures works in concert with other academic programs including Latinos in Action and Dream Big to help first-generation students tackle the academic framework that leads up to and through college. The Park City High School counseling team is an important component of student success as well, preparing students to navigate application processes and college experiences.
Bright Futures members form “crews” – peer groups that teach students to rely on each other, not just adult mentors, as support systems.
“High school is hard,” Hinojos said. “You’re going to need help, and the people at Bright Futures, they’re willing to help you… they offer so many services.”
Not only does Hinojos participate in Bright Futures, but she’s also a member of Latinos in Action, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Team Council, and Hope Squad. That isn’t all; she also works part-time at Michaels. Hinojos is passionate about both her education and activism in her community, but finds a little time to relax now and then. During her downtime she writes poetry and, of course, scrolls through Tik Tok.