Where we you back in 2007? Rene Burgos, Jessica Delgadillo and Kevin Platero were just embarking on elementary school.

And now, that trio counts itself among the 24 high-school seniors recently saluted by AHC Inc. for having achieved college-readiness, in part, by having participated in mentorship programs at AHC’s Arlington residential communities.

AHC celebrated the students’ success, and honored their families and their mentors, during a ceremony held June 13.

“Our journey ahead is going to be awesome but it may be rough at times. You can’t climb to the top of a mountain if the sides are smooth – you need those rough patches to get there,” said Roger Mensah-Cooley, who has participated in the enrichment program since the fourth grade and will attend George Mason University with a goal of studying mechanical engineering.

The mentorship program and volunteers “have inspired me to trust in myself and trust in my abilities,” Mensah-Cooley said. “They have inspired me to become a more caring and compassionate person.”

Among those who have participated in the program since the start of elementary school:

• Burgos will attend Virginia Commonwealth University and aims to major in psychology or science/technology. “My dream is to be successful to repay my mom for all the sacrifices she has made for my sister and me,” he said.

• Delgadillo and Platero will attend Northern Virginia Community College and, through its Pathways program, eventually transfer to four-year institutions. Delgadillo aims to study hospitality management, while Platero seeks to study mechanical engineering.

“Even though you all want to do different things in college, there is a common theme that you want to find a way to make a difference,” said County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey, who spoke at the event.

Also part of AHC’s latest group of students going off to college:

Eilaf Abdelmutalb, Salina Abraham, Arsema Deribe, Alinson Hernandez, Delina Ogbe, Walaa Osman, Anudari Oyunbold, Jose Perez, Yushek Sitoula and Nuhamin Tekleselassie will attend Northern Virginia Community College. Sarish Zahid will attend George Mason University. Rochelle Andrade will attend Trinity University. Nahom Ayele will attend Bucknell University. Cristhian Iriarte Blanco will attend Virginia Tech. Esther Garcia and Annali Menjivar will attend James Madison University. Liliana Martinez and Rozina Nigussie will attend Virginia Commonwealth University. Jade Northover will attend Kent State University. Fatima Mercado-Zeron will attend the University of Mary Washington.

Mentors who worked with students over the past year included Terry Burridge, Laura Cialone, Tara Claeys, Jean Falvey, Aisha Farooq, Evan Heit, Joshua Kearns, Stephanie Lee, Marjorie Macieira, Lemeka Magee, Zaynab Malik, Laura Mulieri, Shawn Pham, Hunter Rheaume, Jonathan Roose, Sharon Showalter, Jeanne Sweeney, Ann Symonds, Gary Usrey, Adrienne Wichard-Edds, Kristine Wood and Maria Woolverton.

AHC Inc. was founded as Arlington Housing Corp. in 1975 to address affordable-housing needs in the community, at first by offering home-improvement grants. In 1980, the organization purchased its first apartment complex and in 1993 started a comprehensive resident-services program, of which the student-mentoring efforts and other educational-enrichment programs are a part.

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