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Celebrating CCR Alums



June 13, 2024


Two alums from AHC’s College and Career Readiness (CCR) program graduated this spring with master’s degrees. AHC is proud to have supported these students on their journeys. Read below to learn about their experiences in CCR and next steps.


Flor Caceres

Master of Higher Education in Student Affairs Administration


When she was a senior in high school, Flor Caceres needed help navigating the college application process. She was an AHC resident and learned about CCR from a friend. She joined and said it opened the door to new opportunities for her.


“As a first-generation student, you're always afraid of asking for things, asking for help,” Flor said. “I learned how to finesse the system that was originally not made for me or my community.”


In 2018, she graduated from CCR and went on to Lafayette College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies, with minors in anthropology and sociology in 2022.

Flor Caceres (left) with Milenka Coronel Samey, the creator of CCR.

Flor always knew she wanted to work with students, so she returned to school at DeSales University to study education. This spring, she earned her master’s degree in higher education with a concentration in student affairs administration.

 

Milenka Coronel Samey, the creator of CCR and Director of Education Programs at AHC, keeps in touch with students long after they leave AHC’s programs. Milenka told Flor about an opportunity to return to AHC and support the program that helped her early in her educational career.


Now Flor is joining AHC as the Regional CCR Coordinator. She hopes her unique perspective will empower students.


“Having learned how to go through the systems of housing and college, I feel like I could relate a little bit more to the students and what they're going through,” Flor said.


Flor is vocal about being undocumented and a recipient of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. She knows what it’s like to try to navigate higher education with this status and is excited to support students who may be in a similar situation.


In school, she was an outspoken leader and student activist, advocating for her communities as a Latina and member of the immigrant community. She wants to inspire future leaders in higher education.


“I feel like it's important to come back and work for the students here, so that way they can also be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of institutions that they will be going to,” she said. “Time to take a step back so they can take a step up.”


Michelle Salinas

Master of Public Health with a Concentration in Nutrition


Michelle Salinas joined AHC’s education programs starting in middle school. As a junior and senior in high school, she participated in CCR. She said these programs motivated her to excel in school and life.  


“I really learned through my life that community and having good people around you is so important to support you in achieving your dreams and pushing you to be your best,” Michelle said.


She also volunteered with AHC’s Afterschool program and summer camp.


“CCR taught me to help out other people and help out the community,” Michelle said.


After graduating from CCR in 2017, Michelle attended Liberty University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in public health in 2021. She then returned to the university to pursue her master’s degree in the field.


In August, after completing her practicum, she will receive her Master of Public Health with a concentration in nutrition. She credits CCR with helping her get started with her education and career.

Michelle Salinas (center) with her family and Milenka Coronel Samey (next to Michelle) at her brother's CCR graduation celebration in 2022.

“I never thought I would get here, but they just train you and lead you,” Michelle said. “[CCR is] like a little nest, and then they let you fly.”


She is the first in her family to graduate from college and graduate school. She’s proud of her accomplishments and hopes to help inspire others.


Michelle’s younger brother and her cousin both went through the CCR program and are currently pursuing degrees at schools in Virginia.


“I'm really thankful CCR helped my brother and my cousin through those processes like they did for me,” she said. “We took that opportunity, and we took it far.”


Michelle is completing her practicum at the Blue Ridge Medical Center in central Virginia. There, she is focused on rural health and providing necessary resources for people who may live far from hospitals and other medical centers.


Michelle is passionate about women’s and maternal health. She is interested in becoming a nutritionist or health educator. She is excited to continue to learn and grow as she helps others.


“Looking back, AHC, because they're nonprofit as well, impacted the community around them,” Michelle said. “That’s something I want to do too.”




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