BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- More than 700 Northwest Arkansas eighth graders graduated Thursday (May 12) from Walmart's "My Future" mentoring program.
The Mi Futuro program was designed to motivate eighth graders to prepare for their futures. It was started in 2009 by the Walmart Hispanic-Latino Associate Resource Group and has now become a multicultural program.
All of the Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville schools that participated in this program were presented with checks totaling more than $23,000.
Emily Hines, one of the graduates, said that before she went through the program she was nervous about her future. However, that's no longer the case.
Hines was a "Promise Letter Winner" and read her letter to the graduation crowd.
“I promised that in high school I would figure out what I wanted to do and I would find hobbies that I want to do and love and that I would grow from there," Hines said.
The Mi Futuro program showed another graduate, Marisol Alvarez, that she has many options for the future. She said it helped her decide that she wants to be a therapist so that she can help others.
“The most important thing that I’ve learned is that, most likely, all my grades are more important to every school, and my attendance and what I’m looking forward to,” Alvarez said.
This program isn't restricted to students in Northwest Arkansas. Over the past seven years, it expanded to 29 states and reaches 8,000 students.
“Our goal is to make sure that they understand the importance of hard work and having dreams, and working hard to get those dreams and how education gets you there,” said Carol Moralez, who works with the program.
Both Alvarez and Hines said they would encourage others to join the program and to be open minded about the future.