MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Approximately 1,000 at-risk students came together in Miami-Dade on Tuesday to learn about the opportunities they have after graduating high school.

The students were part of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence program which partners young men with strong mentors who inspire them to reach their goals.

On Tuesday, the students took the next step in planning their futures.

“I plan to attend FAMU university and study business,” said Toriano Eiland, a senior, who said the program provided him with opportunities that shaped his outlook. “They’re really great mentors and really impacted me. I got to go to Washington.”

“We want to make sure that they’re prepared. That they’re ready to fly. We have put a lot of work into that,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson who founded the 5000 Role Models of Excellence.

With firm handshakes and touched up ties, the young men had the chance to see the different career and school options and consider possibilities.

“It helps develop their character, their skills, their attitude. And again, this whole notion of what they see is what they’ll be. So when they see strong black men of color, strong African-American men, they have the opportunity to see what their future can be,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Steve Gallon.

“I was a 500 role model back in high school, back in 1994. I was one of the first classes to graduate,” said Adly Norelus.

Norelus knows that first hand. He has come full circle, now serving as a mentor for others.

“I have four students in med school that I have mentored. I have students going to law school,” he said.

Whatever they choose, these community, school, and local leaders shared the message with these young men that they have a purpose and to continue pursuing the path of success.

The students at Tuesday’s gathering came from 32 different schools, 75 were recognized as Wilson Scholars.

Karli Barnett