The Moody High School Underwater Robotics team has always had the talent to thrive. The students who are part of the Citgo Innovation Academy are heading to their second international competition in three years.
"Within our region, only two teams are advancing so it’s a really big deal," explains Monica Benavides, assistant principal at Moody High School. "So we’re really excited, super proud of all the kids."
However, students will be the first to admit that, a couple of years ago, their outer appearance didn’t match their inner confidence. Recent Moody graduate Madelyn Perez recalls, "When we went in 2016, we had to kind of gather what we had here and there."
When she and other students arrived at that competition, they found their competitors dressed to the nines. Once Citgo found out about their experience, the company decided to do something about it this time around.
Christina Cisneros-Guzman, government and public affairs manager for Citgo, explains, "We wanted to make sure that — as they are Corpus Christi ISD students and they come from a more urban area — not only have we prepared them to be academically ready, but we wanted to make sure that looked like they were professionally ready as well."
Citgo called one of its local non-profit partners, Dress for Success, to help out. The organization didn’t hesitate to cover the five girls on the robotics team from head to toe. Dress for Success donated suits, shoes, jewelry and even tote bags for the young ladies.
Cathy Colomo-Riojas, executive director of Dress for Success Corpus Christi, says, "We are all about empowering women and especially our young ladies that are future women of our community. You see kind of the walls come down a little bit and you see that confidence show through."
Some of the students say they were surprised by the help. However, all of them are grateful. As Julianna Gomez, incoming junior at Moody HS, describes, "This doesn’t happen everyday, and to get to come in and kind of like play dress up and do what little girls always want to do. I’ve definitely had a lot of fun."
Katarina Ramos, who’s preparing for her senior year at Moody, adds, "I struggle with trying to find professional wear that is proper for this kind of event, and so helping them guide me in the fashion sense and feel comfortable has been a huge help."
"I think it’s an amazing thing that they can do this for us and for others and be able to help others prepare for work or whatever the case may be," says Adriana Benavides, recent Moody HS graduate. "And especially us going to internationals, i think it’s going to be a really great thing."
Madelyn Perez says of their makeover, "When you look feel good, you feel good. So I think it’s going to boost our confidence and we’ll be ready to tackle whatever comes at us."
The women around them also hope that the girls are learning another life lesson along the way — pay it forward.
"I know that this is going to want to make them give back later," Assistant Principal Benavides affirms.
Cisneros-Guzman says she told the students, "You should always remember this moment and reach back for other women, because without each other, we don’t have anything. We only have each other as the basis for our continued success together."
"There’s nothing that’s going to stand in their way. They deserve this and we’re extremely proud of them."
Moody’s Underwater Robotics team will leave June 19 for the international competition in Seattle, Washington. The competition starts on June 21. KRIS 6 News wishes them the best of luck.