BIF 2017 Field Trip: September 13, 14

Hope Life Skills students arrived at 7:30am at Trinity Theatre

in downtown Providence

to step out of their comfort zone

to network – meet, listen, and converse – with amazing storytellers from all over the world.  From artists and astronauts to entrepreneurs and educators,

32 change agents

making profound differences in the world shared their personal stories of challenges and eventual success on the Trinity Theatre stage at BIF 2017.   Our

Hope Life Skills students became part of a growing international community of BIF change agents.

The following video and pictures share the Hope Life Skills student experience at BIF 2017:

2BIF - IMG_3927

Eveline Silva arriving at Trinity to register and is given her BIF Forum badge

98 BIF - IMG_4026

Ianique Imboque leaves the BIF registration desk as Nayely Furcal Marte and Rosa Rodriguez Ortiz adjust their names tags before proceeding into the theatre to meet members of the BIF community and expand their networks.

Today’s Class: May 5th, 2017 – CVS Heath Career and Job Day

The Hope Life Skills class traveled to Woonsocket, Rhode Island today for their

annual Career and Job Day at the impressive campus of CVS Health,

a $177 billion, international company.

cvs -IMG_3614

Ms Nuri, Laisha Mendez and the rest of the Hope Life Skills class check in to the reception desk at the Marketing Center facility on the CVS Health Campus.

cvs 1 - IMG_3619

Gerardo Castenada receives his Identification tag at the reception desk at the Marketing Center.

cvs 0 - IMG_3621

Ariel Hall greets Fred Felix, a senior manager at CVS Health

cvs 2 -IMG_3628

Carlos Sanchez, Senior Director of Channel Innovation and Program Delivery,  welcomes the Hope Life Skills class to the CVS Health campus and informs the students of the day’s agenda.

cvs 99 -IMG_3625

The Day’s agenda

Carlos Sanchez, the host and coordinator of this event for the past several years, began the day’s program with several impressive facts about CVS Health, ranked 7th on the Forbes 500 list with almost 8,000 CVS stores throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil.  He then presented an assignment to the class.  “As you hear about CVS Health today and meet several of our team members in your department immersion meetings, ask yourself what skills and qualities you possess that would cause CVS Health to consider you a good candidate for a job here.”   Fred Felix added

how would you respond during the job interview if you were asked ‘what value would you bring to CVS Health if you were hired’?

Hope Life Skills Summer Internships

The summer of 2016.   Another year of internship opportunities

for Hope Life Skills students.  From the corporate offices of one of the America’s largest and most successful companies to the friendly confines of a community bookstore, 5 Hope Life Skills students were learning 21st century skills, expanding their networks of successful professionals and earning money in the process.

Today’s Amica Insurance Field Trip: April 28, 2016

“Your brand is amazing!  


Leah Scott, Associate Human Resources Recruiter, welcomes Hope’s Life Skills students to Amica Insurance before sharing her personal story of a nursing education and entrepreneurial experience before coming to Amica.


Ramona Royal, corporate Human Resource Officer at Amica Insurance, shares her personal story of transition and success before and during her experience at Amica Insurance.


Raymond Perez, donning his Syracuse University Orange, asks one of his several probing questions to the Amica Insurance team.

Your level of maturity, the

sophistication of your questions and your courage to ask them

among our staff here at Amica is unlike most groups visiting our Amica campus. 

You seem to have no trouble pushing out of your comfort zone. 

Today’s CVS Health Field Trip: April 7, 2016

The Hope Life Skills class took a

trip to the campus of CVS Health, one of the world’s largest companies with revenues of more than $150 BILLION,


Carlos Sanchez, Senior Director, Advertising Production at CVS Health, opens today’s event with a welcome to the Hope High Life Skills students and an introduction to the business and culture of CVS Health

in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  The

mission of today’s class was to introduce students to a variety of jobs at CVS Health,


Yolanda Baez, the Regional Director of Acquisitions at CVS Health, shares her personal story from growing up in Providence, Rhode Island and her high school education at one of Providence’s inner city schools to her initial CVS pharmacist job and onto her present job at the corporate headquarters identifying and purchasing new stores.

Field Trip: December 8, 2015

Today’s field trip was to Rhode Island College’s

amazing Langevin Center for Design, Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing.


Rhode Island College students putting one of the many robots in the Langevin Center through an exercise

Robots and routers.  Pneumatics and prosthetics.  Fingerprints and security threats.    3D printing and whatever you wish to design and make.


Dr McLaughlin shows recent creations from his newly installed, ‘high tech’ router as Life Skills students look on.


One of the Rhode Island College advanced manufacturing students shows the Life Skills students a highly functional and durable wrench just created from the nearby 3D printer.


A fingerprint lifted from an Iphone by the high precision scanner below.  This is the first step in re-creating the fingerprint with 3D print technology.  Imagine, a process for re-creating a person’s finger print and any other body or machine part one wishes to replicate.


The precision scanner copying the exact features of an object on the table.


From left to right in this photo: Michael DeCesare (East Greenwich High School Freshman), Fernando Perez, Chanda Nuth, Jose Orellana, Dr McLaughlin, Travis Barbour, Djovan Devega, Alex (Rhode Island College student), Jesse (Rhode Island College student) and Yaen Torres Mitchell (front).

Class Field Trip: BIF 2015 – September 16 and September 17

For the 5th consecutive year, Hope Life Skills students had the opportunity to attend an

amazing convocation of inspirational, international story tellers at the Trinity Theatre in Providence at BIF 10.

BIF 10photo

The BIF venue at Trinity Theatre: individuals sharing their life stories on the Trinity Theatre stage to inspire and empower hundreds of listeners to extend themselves out of their comfort zone to be the successful person each dreams to be.  Matthew Zachary, the storyteller on stage in this photo, shares his brain surgery story.   You can see a screen in the upper right corner of this photo, on the stage, which was a video showing the intimate details of the actual surgery opening Matthew’s skull to remove a cancerous tumor.  Matthew was awake during the entire operation speaking to the surgeons.

Each storyteller shared a story from his or her life journey, often about doubt and adversity, sometimes failure, but always ‘never give up’ to extend themselves out of their comfort zone toward ultimate success.

One of the amazing things about this event was our ability to meet and speak with the storytellers

during breaks and at lunch” said Gisabel Salcedo.  “I was so excited about meeting singer/songwriter Dani Shay.   We talked about our love of music and the details of songwriting.  And, she was so nice and encouraging.

The Summer Internship Program at CVS Health: Presentation Day

It was day when everyone felt good.


Just a few of the attendees at the August 21, 2015  CVS Health Hope High Life Skills Intern Presentation Day on the CVS Health corporate campus in Woonsocket, RI; from left to right: JosephLinc’ Murray (Senior Advisor Inventory Analytics), Shaun McKim (Senior Advisor, Inventory Analytics),Mike Martel (Director, Pharmacy Inventory Management), Fernando Perez (CVS summer intern-Hope High School Senior), Hafzat Akanni (CVS summer intern-Hope High School Senior), Jean Rodriguez (Hope High Life Skills program alum and CVS Health intern), Manny Rivas (CVS summer intern-Hope High School Senior) and Amy Propatier (Pharmacy Inventory Manager)

For the Hope High Life Skills students, it was about a summer work experience in ‘supply chain management‘, ‘computer programming‘, ‘analytics‘ and ‘corporate communications‘ at CVS Health, a  $140 billion dollar, international company.   For the CVS Health staff, it was observing the return on their personal investment mentoring some of Providence’s best and brightest young people who might eventually be future ‘supply chain managers’, ‘pharmacists’, ‘analysts’, ‘programmers’, ‘corporate communication specialists’, ‘lawyers’ and maybe even a ‘CEO’ at CVS Health or some other Rhode Island company or organization.

Opening remarks by CVS executives Lou Mercado, Vice President of Inventory Management, and Donna Mumma, Senior Director of Pharmacy Inventory Management and Analytics, addressed the mission of the internship program and the benefits of  strong personal brands and networks of successful, good people.   “You control your personal brand.  The best brands get the best and most opportunities for success.

Your brand will either open or close doors of opportunities throughout life. 

You’re part of this internship program because of the positive perception of your brand.  How well you maintain your positive brand will ultimately determine the quality of your job and career  opportunities and, eventually, your future success.  One of the reasons CVS Health continues to be a successful company is because of the CVS Health brand.  The people you see in this room and throughout this campus and in every CVS Health store you visit are responsible for the strength of the company brand.  The same can be said of your brand.  It depends on your commitment and the quality and commitment of the people in your network”.


Donna Mumma, Senior Director Pharmacy Inventory Management and Analytics and Lou Mercado, Vice President of Inventory Management

Following Lou Mercado and Donna Mumma, each student proceeded to the front of the room to speak to the audience and their CVS Health mentors about their summer internship.

Field Trip: Washington, D.C.

Gisabel Salcedo.   Fernando Perez.   Hafzat Akanni.    Jessica Dough.   

Destination:  Washington, D.C.

The National Youth Leadership Forum on CSI and Law.


From left to right: Gisabel, Fernando, Hafzat and Jessica ready to depart for the Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

Hafzat, Fernando, Jessica and Gisabel left Providence on Monday morning, July 20, on a direct flight to Washington, D.C. to represent our Hope High Life Skills class, Hope High School, their families and their own brands at

a national, week long leadership conference in our nation’s capital.

Over 400 students from all over the United States were in attendance.  “Even Alaska!, Mr CroninJessica informed me.  In fact, Jessica met a Japanese girl who lived on an American military base in Japan who was part of the conference.  “It was such a diverse group of students, not only geographically but culturally, ethnically and ideologically.   We had so many interesting conversations within our groups and with our roommates.  I was amazed and pleased I found students who had similar interests and social perspectives as  my own.”

I was surprised how inclusive the conference was” Fernando commented.

“I wasn’t expecting everyone to be as friendly as they were. Regardless of where you were from, urban or rural, Tennessee or Colorado, Florida or California, whether you were affluent or less fortunate, it made no difference.  Everyone came together. 

We were all focused on making the most of the conference and having a good time.”  Fernando observed.

Hafzat added “the students I met were serious about their educations but, at the same time, we had lots of fun!  My roommates were from California and Washington state. I also met students from Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

And, from Gisabel, “you start off wondering how the other students at the conference from different places in America will treat you.  I was amazed how quickly we all got comfortable with each other.  Within 2 days of my arrival, everyone bonded.  Whether you were from Los Angeles or New York, like my roommates, or Providence, it didn’t make a difference; we all became very comfortable with each other.  I made several wonderful, new friends”.

According to Jessica, “all of us

had to be prepared to step out of our comfort zoneWe were always meeting new people.  It was great!

Gisabel shared one example of extending herself out of her comfort zone.  “During one of the activities, I was assigned with two other students to test finger prints found at a mock crime scene at a forensic lab.  We then had to answer questions and provide explanations to a mock jury.  I was nervous at first but, afterwards, I felt good about my performance.  It was a great experience.  I’m glad I did it.”   And Hafzat added -  One day, one of the conference leaders asked the group if anyone was interested in introducing a famous law professor from George Washington University to entire the Forum prior to his lecture.  

I thought about it and then said ‘what the heck. I’ll push myself out of my comfort zone and do it’.  I was nervous when I made the introduction in front of everyone but afterwards, I felt pretty good about it.”

Jessica concurred.  In a text to me (Mr Cronin) during the conference, Jessica wrote “we’ re so proud of Hafzat.  She got up in front of the whole conference and introduced one of the speakers.  She was amazing!”

From court room mock trials and visits to CSI forensic laboratories to tours of universities like George Mason and Georgetown and conversations with federal agents, lawyers and judges, each day was packed with activities.   Students were given responsibilities for each activity.   Being part of a forensic team examining handwriting samples or testing finger prints from a mock crime scene or being a prosecuting attorney, each student had a role to play.

Students were given time to visit many of the iconic locations in our nation’s capital:  the Viet Nam Memorial, National History Museum, The Lincoln Monument, Martin Luther King exhibit and the National Mall.  One of the

most impactful tours was the Holocaust Museum.

holocaust museumObama-and-Wiesel-at-Holocaust-Memorial-Museum-with-museum-director-Sara-Bloomfield-photo-by-Pete-Souza

President Obama (center) reflecting on one of the exhibits at the Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum had a powerful aura; you could tell it was a special placeFernando said.  Jessica added “I had always heard and wondered about the Lincoln Memorial.   I felt good about actually being there to see it.”


The Lincoln Monument: Jessica’s favorite place.


Within the walls of the Memorial, the iconic statue of President Abraham Lincoln

One of the many benefits of the conference was

the exposure to new careers and new places.

Afterward, Hafzat, Gisabel, Jessica and Fernando reflected on their experience.   “You know, I wasn’t thinking about a career in forensics.  But, after attending this conference, I’ve started to think about a career in this field.  I also wasn’t thinking going to college in Washington or Maryland;   now I am” added Fernando.   Gisabel concurred.  “One of the best things about this conference was learning about careers I previously knew nothing about.  I’m really interested in learning more about a forensic career“.   Hafzat added “I’m actually thinking about a law career“.   And for Jessica, “I’m certainly interested in looking at schools in this area of the country.  My roommate told me George Mason was her dream school.  And Georgetown is beautiful;  I just loved the campus architecture“.

Anything else, guys?  “There were a lot of different accents, Mr Cronin.  Some of the students from the southern states were interesting to listen to.  I can only imagine what they thought about our Providence accent”  Fernando said.  Jessica added “my advisory leader was surprised when I gave her my business card.  She was impressed I had them“.   Hafzat had a similar reaction when she handed out her cards.  “I met so many impressive people, Mr CroninGisabel added.  “Especially our program coordinator, Antoine.  Just the way he coordinated all our activities over the course of the week and the respect we all had for him was impressive.  I learned a lot from him.”

The last comment of this post is

‘thank you’.

Each student, Hafzat, Gisabel, Fernando and Jessica, expressed their appreciation repeatedly during my conversations with them for all the people who made this opportunity possible.  From Marcia Basler who has been picking up Hope High ‘Life Skills’ students at the airport since Marta Aparicio’s visit in 2008 and especially Marta’s tour of Georgetown where she eventually received a full scholarship and four wonderful years to the many corporate and individual sponsors (Pipier, Lou, Mark, John, Tom and the Board, Paul and John, and Carlos) whose donations subsidize this trip, ‘thank you’ for this ‘life changing’ opportunity for these exceptional students from Hope High School.  They made us proud!  Their brand is strong and they’ve done much to enhance the Hope High School brand too.  These four students are but a small representation of many other exceptional young people at Hope High School waiting to be given an opportunity to show their talents.  Thank you so much for your ongoing support.  I look forward to visiting all our sponsors over the next few months to ask for your support again for the coming year.