Meet Valentina and Veronica – ASAS Orlando Alumni
For thirty years, After-School All-Stars has been proud to provide impactful and lasting experiences to the families and communities we serve. We recently sat down with All-Stars Alumni Valentina and Veronica Eslava, twin sisters, who shed light on the importance ASAS programming had in their lives. Now years removed from their All-Stars experience, the sisters reflected on their personal journeys, and pivotal after-school experiences that still positively impact their present days.
Veronica and Valentina grew up in Orlando, Florida. Their parents, who had immigrated to America from Colombia, were very busy during after-school hours, each balancing heavy work schedules. Entering middle school in 2010, the twins were excited to participate in the programming provided by the Orlando chapter of After-School All-Stars, after hearing their older sister gush about the one-of-a-kind opportunities and experiences she’d had at All-Stars.
“With all my experience of being a student, a volunteer, and then a counselor, I learned so much that I was able to apply to my undergrad.”
“[The] interpersonal skills [I have are] all accredited to All-Stars.” – Valentina
Valentina and Veronica knew of the opportunities that All-Stars offered, and they showed up excited to participate fully. The sisters were quickly brought into the fold, into an inclusive and fun-loving group of other girls who were ready to try any activity and have a blast doing it. At first, the twins and their friends were playing sports with the boys, but the girls’ transformative experience in sports made it clear to their coaches that girls sports were needed, and the first all-girls sports installment was created at the All-Stars Orlando chapter. Later, this motivated Valentina and Veronica to try out for the official school teams.
“Thanks to All-Stars, we survived middle school.” – Veronica
At All-Stars, the girls learned everything from how to write a check, to how to use their voices and express ideas in a group. With a dedicated tutoring hour for homework at the beginning of every session, Veronica fondly remembered having a safe place to ask for school help. Valentina similarly recalled the importance of having a mentor closer to their age that was available in a safe environment to talk and vent to. Veronica and Valentina both agreed that ASAS programs improved their social skills, and helped them avoid potential bad influences they might otherwise run into. Their parents, they said, will always love All-Stars for the “relief” they felt, knowing their daughters were in good hands while they navigated their busy schedules every day.
After their experiences as All-Star students, the sisters both took an interest in mentoring others, and returned to All-Stars; Valentina as a summer sports coach and Veronica as a mentor in the years following their completion of ASAS programming in 2013.
The sisters attended the University of Florida, both majoring in Health Sciences. Veronica is now on her way to PA (Physician’s Assistant) school, while Valentina only recently stopped working as a mentor at All-Stars and is now in her second year of graduate school at the University of Florida for Health Administration. She currently works with the College of Medicine and the Finance and Administration unit and continues to give back to the community by teaching clinics in nearby Gainsville.
“We knew how much All-Stars impacted us, so we felt we needed to give back and help kids the same way that the counselors at that time helped us.” – Veronica
“Without the program I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be as focused or driven.” – Valentina
By participating in ASAS programming, the sisters learned important lessons, made lifelong friends, and prepared for their journeys to college and beyond. They also discovered the significance of giving back to their communities, in both their personal and professional lives. With the successes of recent alumni like Valentina and Veronica, it is safe to say that after thirty years of All-Stars, the next thirty years will continue to be bright.