Where Are They Now?

First and Goal, Inc. alumni features

A look to see what are some of the First and Goal, Inc. alumni are doing after high school, college and beyond.

Since the inception of First and Goal, Inc. many students have had the opportunity to be a part of various student-based programs within the organization. Other students have served as First and Goal, Inc. Conference Facilitators, Youth Group Leaders, Youth Service Specialist in the Leadership Conferences, Summer Enrichment Program or College Experience Programs.

Maggie Manzano-Padilla, MPA

Maggie Manzano-Padilla, MPA

Director of Executive Programs | University of Houston
 | Conrad N. Hilton Hotel and Restaurant Management College

 

What was your First and Goal, Inc. experience?

I met Tyrone Smith and his team at an orientation for the  Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program in 2003.  The program was designed to expose first-generation, inner-city students to the college experience. The Journey Beyond Dreams  College Experience Program was a two week college experience camp at Baylor University where we lived the college experience and for me, it would be the first time I would step foot on a college campus.

At the time, the program seemed to be an opportunity for a “free trip.” In reality, this trip changed the course of my future and the expectations of my academic future. During the two weeks, we took part in workshops and group activities, led by Tyrone Smith and his team, which empowered me to believe that I could achieve my goals and be successful at anything I set my mind to. 

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your life after graduating?

After Journey Beyond Dreams and graduating high school, I attended Sam Houston State University on a full scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. I continued my education at Texas A&M and earned my Master’s in Public Service and Administration soon after. 

As life had it, many years later I crossed paths with Tyrone Smith.  After reconnecting he granted me the opportunity to work for the Journey Beyond Dreams Program and other programs as a staff member and as an intern with First and Goal, Inc.  These opportunities provided me with a new perspective on the hard work and dedication Tyrone Smith has towards making a difference in the lives of young students.  This also allowed me to see the impact his programs have on students, their families, and their futures. 

I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Tyrone more than 15 years ago and to have had the opportunity to work with him and help him in his mission.

Are there lessons from First and Goal, Inc. you use in life today?

Today, I live by something he taught me many years ago and something I consistently tell my students; “Success is a journey, not a destination.  And it doesn’t matter where you start but about where you finish.” 

Tyrone, thank you for everything you do and continue to do.  The world is a better place thanks to your work and your continued service to our youth. 

Biography:

Maggie Manzano-Padilla earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Sam Houston State University and soon after, earned her Master’s degree at Texas A&M in Public Service and Administration. Her passion for higher education stems from being a first-generation student and the help she received during her journey to higher education.  Maggie now has over 10 years of experience in higher education working in various capacities including; admissions, program coordinating, scholarships and even graduate programs.  During her tenure in higher education, she has been fortunate to work at the University of Houston-Downtown, the University of Houston and Sam Houston State University.  Most recently, she helped operate the largest scholarship program at Sam Houston State University before accepting her current position as Director of Executive Programs at the University of Houston – Conrad N. Hilton College.

Keith Cross MS, LAT, ATC

Keith Cross MS, LAT, ATC

Athletic Trainer | Department of Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Head Athletic Trainer | Redmond High School

 

What was your First and Goal, Inc. experience?

Mr. Tyrone Smith is one of the most influential people I have ever met in my life. I was first introduced to Mr. Smith and First and Goal, Inc. in the summer of 2008 when I attended the Prepare to Dream Peer Leadership Program at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. When I initially signed up to attend the camp I had no idea what to expect and honestly did not believe I would come away from it with anything new that had not to be explained or taught to me previously. However, I found my experience with Mr. Smith and the tools that he provided me to achieve success in life to be life-changing. 

Through his teaching and instruction Mr. Smith shows students that with the proper game plan in place, anyone can obtain the goals that they have in life. As a product of his passions, Mr. Smith uses himself as a prime example of what you can achieve and overcome in life if you put forth the effort in the right direction leading towards your goals. His successes and achievements are a testament to the work he has done and will continue to do as he progresses with his career. 

Where are you today?

I am currently living in Seattle, WA with my fiancé and 3-year-old Great Dane, Tex! I have been living here for approximately two years after having completed my graduate studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2017 and working full-time at the university as an athletic trainer for the men’s soccer program for 4 years (2014-2018).  After a short time working at Boeing in their 737 factory here in Renton, WA, I moved on to working as an athletic trainer employed by Seattle Children’s Hospital where I work at Redmond High School in Redmond, WA. My transition to working for the hospital has truly been a blessing and brought me full circle to where I am helping high school student-athletes achieve their highest potential both on the sports field/court and in the classroom. I never thought I would find myself back in a high school where I could work with young people and help to mold them into our future leaders of today, but I love what I do and feel so blessed to be in the position I am in today.  

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your life after graduating? 

While working with my students I continue to remind myself and look back on the things that my experience with First and Goal Inc. has helped me realize and understand in regards to the importance of preparing yourself for life and the things life may throw at you that you may never be prepared for. But with hard work, dedication, perseverance, and teamwork you may achieve things far greater than you ever even imagined for yourself. Including Mr. Smith’s jump rope activity that challenges all students.

I believe I could go on and on when it comes to reminiscing on my experiences with you and First and Goal, Inc. and the impact it has had on everyone I know that has been a part of it.

Yolanda Melendez

Yolanda Melendez

 

What was your First and Goal, Inc. experience?

As a First and Goal, Inc. Alumni, I remember the importance and impact the program had on my future. As a high school student, I was unsure about what college had to offer or available opportunities. The First and Goal, Inc. program provided an educational foundation for me to build my future experiences.

Which program were you apart of with First and Goal, Inc.?  

I was a part of the Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program in 2008 at Baylor University as a high school student.

Where are you today?

I currently work for the Department of Defense. 

My educational Journey.

After participating in the First and Goal, Inc. Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program at Baylor University, I continued my education to earn my Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Political Science, graduating Cum Laude from The University of Houston-Downtown. I then went on to earn my Master’s of Science Degree in Security Studies with a focus on Intelligence, Security Studies, & Analysis from Angelo State University. 

Are there lessons from First and Goal, Inc. you use in life today? 

I owe part of my success to the program and the mentoring I received. To this day, I will always remember the lessons learned, friends I made, and professional goals that First and Goal, Inc. helped me achieve. 

Chelsea Davis-Bibb

Chelsea Davis-Bibb

Assistant Professor - English | Lone Star College - University Park

 

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST AND GOAL, INC. EXPERIENCE? 

I had an amazing experience with First and Goal Inc. I learned so many things about life that were valuable at that point in time of my life, and that are still valuable to this day. I also learned so much about myself, and who I am as a person. I also received the opportunity to meet some wonderful new people. 

WHICH PROGRAM WERE YOU APART OF WITH FIRST AND GOAL, INC.?

 I was a part of Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program in 2008 at Baylor University as a high school student. 

WHERE ARE YOU TODAY? 

I am currently an Associate Professor of English at Lone Star College in Houston Texas. I am currently working on her doctoral degree at Sam Houston State University in Developmental Education Administration. I have also authored two books titled More Than Words and The Overflow, and worked as a journalist for the African American News and Issues Newspaper. In my free time I love to write, travel and spend time with my husband and daughter.  

HOW DID FIRST AND GOAL, INC. INFLUENCE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE? 

When I was a part of Journey Beyond Dreams in 2008, I was a senior in high school. During the program, I was able to stay on the campus of Baylor University. This experience got me excited for college and exposed some aspects of what college would be like when it was my chance to attend. I always had to dream to attend college, but this experience allowed me to be excited, and want to be successful in college.  

HOW DID FIRST AND GOAL, INC. INFLUENCE YOUR LIFE AFTER GRADUATING? 

After graduating high school, I was able to give back and work with First and Goal Inc. with some of the programs to support youth. I served as a Youth Group Leader for the Prepare to Dream College Experience Program and supported in multiple roles with First and Goal, Inc. as a team member because of my versatility and love for youth. 

ARE THERE LESSONS FROM FIRST AND GOAL, INC. YOU USE IN LIFE TODAY?

There are some lessons that I still use in life today. First and foremost, to always follow my dreams no matter what, and to not let anyone stop me. Additionally, to understand that life may not always go the way I envisioned it, but in anything that I do, do it with purpose, and help someone else along the way. 

Hieu Nguyen

Hieu Nguyen

 

What was your First and Goal, Inc. experience?

Looking back, the Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program at Baylor University has always been the root of how much I’ve accomplished in life. The experience was something I’ve never had. Before attending the Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program at Baylor University, I’ve not ever stepped foot on a university or interact like a college student for a short period.  This was a great stepping stone for me to explore college. Since attending this program during my sophomore year in high school, I was able to attend multiple summer programs to help me to determine what I wanted to study in college.  Because of all these programs, I never made a change in my major while in college. I am grateful for that. 

Which program were you apart of with First and Goal, Inc.?  

I was a part of the Journey Beyond Dreams College Experience Program in 2010 at Baylor University as a high school student.  

Where are you today?

I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with honors in Fall 2016. This is huge because I finished my studies in less than 4 years. Following that, I accepted an offer to work as a mechanical designer for a well-known architect/engineering firm – PBK Architects. After this year, I will be able to obtain a Professional Engineer license to practice. Most importantly, I help my family. I paid off my parent’s current mortgage and allowed them to retire early. 

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your life after graduating?

There is one learning session that I still remember very clearly. It was about setting my priorities and plans for how I can achieve these goals. I’ve always remembered that lesson and it has helped me tremendously in early high school, college days, personal life and now in my profession. It has always been rewarding when I can cross off a certain item of my priority list. I’ve accomplished so much in life by just following the basics of knowing my priorities.

Kymora Simone

Kymora Simone

  

What was your First and Goal, Inc. experience?

My First and Goal, Inc. experience was inspiring and made me feel as though I was a part of a like-minded and progressive family.  

Which program were you apart of with First and Goal, Inc.? 

I was apart of the Harris County Youth Services Division: Youth On BOARD  Program. As a former Youth On BOARD member, other youths and I would gather together to plan ways to use our voice and influence as leaders in the community. It was a very grateful and fulfilling experience for me to be apart of the Youth On BOARD Program.

What is going on with you today?

Today I’m writing music, acting and making soundtracks for movies. I have a new song called ‘Fake Friends’ on all music platforms (Pandora, Apple Music, etc). I’m currently reading books about the music business and in college for cosmetology. 

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your high school or college experience?

First and Goal, Inc. helped me to focus, follow through with tasks, and stay organized.

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your life after graduating?

Staying organized with daily life makes tasks a-lot more balanced. Being accountable for my actions was the best lesson I ever learned for me being apart of First and Goal. Even though a storm or catastrophe is happening around me doesn’t mean you give up.

Are there lessons from First and Goal, Inc. you use in life today? 

We have to stay the course follows in the footsteps of our goals in life. 

– A hater is born every 2.4 seconds, so surround yourself with like-minded people that you can grow with. Don’t let the haters dim your light.

 

 

Marissa Marrero

Marissa Marrero

  

What was your First and Goal, Inc. experience?

My First and Goal, Inc. experience was unlike any I was able to experience while I was in high school. I was exposed to the possibility of being a college student at some of the top universities in the nation. I learned so many things that I couldn’t comprehend at the time. It is such a wonderful program and I’m grateful to have been apart of it.   

Which program were you apart of with First and Goal, Inc.? 

 I was with the Journey Beyond Dreams program at LSU. I was documenting events so I got a special perspective by seeing the progression of students from day one to the last day of the program before they all left to go back home. I loved the dynamic between the students and counselors/facilitators. I never experienced the program from a student’s point of view, but I learned so much from both parties for my benefit and I’m forever grateful. It was a wonderful experience! 

What is going on with you today?

 I am currently a Junior at the Bauer College is Business at the University of Houston majoring in Finance. I also am interning as a financial representative at Mass Mutual this Spring semester. It’s a change from my previous work with photography, but I love school!  

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your high school or college experience?

 The program exposed me to the life of a college student which I didn’t get elsewhere. I worked with the program after I graduated high school with multiple programs. I didn’t go to college after I graduated from high school. It took me a while to find what I wanted to do that would benefit my life and career, but I decided Finance would be a great way to help me personally as well as helping me develop my career goals. 

How did First and Goal, Inc. influence your life after graduating?

 After graduating from high school I decided to work since I was unsure of what I wanted to do as a career. I was enrolled in a community college, but that was the extent of my college education. I was in a lull for a couple of years, but I remembered my experiences at the various universities with First and Goal, Inc. and thought, “ There is no reason why I shouldn’t try to have the college/university life and further myself.” There was a whole world where everyone had the same goals and endured the same obstacles which I would also face, and I needed to be apart of that world. I knew I wasn’t going to be alone. So I applied to the University of Houston and with a lot of hard work and discipline I was accepted! 

 Are there lessons from First and Goal, Inc. you use in life today? 

 There are so many life lessons I learned while I worked with the First and Goal, Inc. programs. I was never an athlete so the program was able to coach me in more ways than I could imagine. The program gave me the confidence to push myself in the right direction. It took a while but I was always looking back to those years to help guide me. For me, it took discipline to keep going when I wanted to slack off, but I always thought of the bigger picture in life. I realized that I was capable of so much more than I thought, and I was the one holding myself back. The program had so many great teachers (students, facilitators, counselors). I wasn’t there as a student, but I learned so much even on the outside looking in as a photographer.