2017-03-16 / Top News

Former Immokalee student is in the driver’s seat at Enterprise

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY


DESTINE DESTINE Junior Destine laughs now when reminded of the Instagram profile he created while in his teens. He was “just a kid” of Haitian heritage trying to make it in America, he wrote then.

A few years later, his Blogspot profile declared that he was from Immokalee, a freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University studying business, and he liked to read and play basketball.

He’s 25 now and clearly making it in America.

As branch manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car at the Naples Municipal Airport, Mr. Destine is putting his degree in marketing and management to good use. He says managers for his company do it all, from sales to service, from marketing to managing the branch employees. “When you work for Enterprise, you’ve got your hands in everything,” he says.

And doing everything has paid off financially, enabling Mr. Destine to move to a condominium in Fort Myers and, along with his sister, Yvette — an elementary school teacher in Cape Coral — to represent the first generation in his family to go to college and earn a degree.

He wouldn’t have imagined it when he was a child.

“I just thought I’d be like the rest of my family — go to high school and then get a job,” he says.

But The Immokalee Foundation’s postsecondary and career success program helped him envision much more for his life.

Mr. Destine came under the foundation’s wing while still in high school. He received help with his academic plan, applying to colleges and finding and competing for scholarships. He decided on FGCU. “And even during college, a mentor met up with me on campus, the whole nine yards,” he says. “The Immokalee Foundation didn’t get me to college and forget about me.”

His association with Enterprise began with an internship during his senior year of college. He then worked at the Southwest Florida International Airport branch. After graduation, he stayed with the company full-time and soon was promoted to assistant manager. For the past year and a half, he has managed his own branch in Naples.

The goal of TIF’s post-secondary and career success program is to help students make the transition from high school to college and beyond. It helps them develop important life skills such as financial responsibility, time management and study habits — skills that will benefit them now and later in life.

Mr. Destine was not alone in finding it hard to imagine earning a college degree and having the kinds of career opportunities his parents and grandparents never had. He and his sister were raised by their grandmother, who died two years ago. TIF remains as an anchor for them in the community and a loyal force in their lives.

TIF’s major annual fundraisers like the Charity Classic Celebration and the Charity Classic Pro-Am make foundation programs possible, but so do donations, bequests, mentors, volunteers and a dedicated staff.

This 25th year of the foundation was notable for the first graduation of a physician, Dr. Kristen Dimas, who is completing her residency with Lee Health and plans to stay in the area to use her education to help her community of origin.

Support from the business community also has been essential to the growth of Immokalee’s children into educated adults who realize their potential. TIF’s post-secondary and career success program also provides vocational opportunities for students who are not college-bound but are needed to fill important, well-paying jobs, particularly in heavy equipment mechanics.

The post-secondary and career success program is bolstered by TIF’s career development and junior career development programs for students at younger ages, beginning in middle school. Through speakers, presentations and outings to places of business in Southwest Florida, TIF students learn about a range of careers, from finance to military service, veterinary medicine to nursing, social work, performing arts, restaurant and other business opportunities.

To learn more about TIF, including how to volunteer, become a mentor or make a donation, call 430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org. ¦

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