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After working with multicultural communities for many years, Mr. Villafuerte noticed that the educational field was labeling some students as first-generation and low-income youth – a category often used to identify high-opportunity students. However, the term is grounded in deficit-based language that immediately informs students about their obstacles and disadvantages. As a result, a young developing mind may quickly fall into the abyss of doubt and uncertainty. In 2019, Mr. Villafuerte set out to Reframe the Narrative for First-Generation and Low-income Youth (FLY), on the TEDxPLNU stage, by coining the term FLY Scholars as an alternative phrase for identifying resilient students. Jonathan Villafuerte personifies a story of courage and resiliency. As a teenager, Mr. Villafuerte fell into street culture and began to cope with his problems by affiliating with a local gang. Fortunately, he transformed his life and earned a full-ride scholarship to Point Loma Nazarene University. In 2009, he became a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Mr. Villafuerte has since earned a Master of Science degree in Counseling (with a PPS credential) from San Diego State University. Mr. Villafuerte’s work is strongly grounded in equity and empathy for First-Generation, Low-Income Youth (FLY Scholars).

As an educated man of color, he is cognizant that with positive and culturally relevant programs, all students have a higher chance of attending and graduating from college. Villafuerte has made a lifelong commitment to bridge the opportunity gap as an educator, public speaker, and urban-education consultant. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx


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