Watch Everth (John Handley High School ’21, Shenandoah University ’25) talk about his SLI experiences during Meet SLI – Winchester
Even though soccer had always been a big part of his life, the suspense was nerve wracking. Everth had never before tried out for a school athletic team, and that February night, along with 60 or 70 hopeful peers, he watched as the John Handley High School (JHHS) coaches filled their rosters.
One by one, players – including some of his closest friends – were called into the office and named to either the varsity or junior varsity team.
“I started getting nervous,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, the spots are filling up.’”
And then, finally, Everth was called. The coach said he’d liked what he’d seen in Everth: a work ethic and willingness to put his body into defensive play.
“He loved how I was one of the people who actually love defending,” Everth recalled. “He told me, ‘Congratulations, you made the team.’”
The varsity team, at that.
“I walked out of the office with a big smile on my face,” he said. “All my friends we came and we cheered together. It was really nice.”
But maybe not surprising, considering Everth’s general approach to life.
*The COVID-19 pandemic subsequently disrupted Everth’s soccer plans. In May 2021 he sent this update: “I am finally able to play soccer with my friends once again, which has been amazing.”
PAIN – AND PLANS
A junior, Everth is a scholar in the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI), a nonprofit that creates college opportunities for first-generation Latino/x high school students here as well as in Harrisonburg and Richmond. He’s a member of the Key Club and the culture club Latinos Unidos, and president of the Spanish Honor Society.
His academic load is anything but lightweight: Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History, AP English, an online college class, AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry. During another class period, he offers math peer tutoring.
Already certified in phlebotomy through a high school class last year – but still too young to work in the field – Everth’s goal is to be a nurse anesthetist.
It’s an ambition that he came by honestly: “I was a really clumsy kid, so I would get hurt a lot,” he said. When he’d need stitching or other treatment, “I would always feel the pain.”
He plans first to become a registered nurse at community college, then earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and then pursue a master’s degree to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
“What’s notable about Everth,” said JHHS math teacher and SLI program director Thomas Robb, “is his genuine, deep caring for people. He is a devoted student who is learning the long-term benefits of perseverance and consistent, continued work. Everth applies himself to excel in academics, yet keeps life in perspective with all that is around him.”
PATH TO SLI
Everth was born in Arlington, Virginia; his family moved to Winchester when he was two years old. His parents, from El Salvador, didn’t attend college – but always wanted a “better future” for their children.
“They made sure that I kept it in the back of my head,” he said. “They really want what’s best for me.”
His older sister, a SLI alum, finished high school with a year’s worth of college credits and is now on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in business.
“I saw the benefits that SLI was giving her,” Everth said, “like preparing her to gain leadership skills as well as how to get a feel for college and how to prepare for it.” In ninth grade he was recommended to the program by a teacher and applied, then was interviewed and accepted.
“I wanted to gain those skills that SLI had to offer,” he said. “I’m grateful to Mr. Robb for giving me such a great opportunity.”
Everth has participated in SLI book seminars on analytic thinking skills, and the program matched him with a university student mentor who has given him “really helpful” time management tips for academic success.
SLI also pushed him out of his comfort zone to start new friendships, he said, and to collaborate with others and join in team-building service projects such as a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event packaging food for community members.
“I don’t see myself as the same person I was two and a half years ago,” he said. “I see myself as someone who’s more outgoing. My work ethic has increased, and my determination to do something. There’s times where maybe the results aren’t what I want, but I’m always pushing through to make sure that everything improves for the next time.”
Everth and his family are devout Seventh Day Adventists, and his guiding principle is “Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo,” he said: “Love others just as you love yourself.”
“It’s how I have respect for myself and try to motivate myself,” he said. “Just as my parents have taught that mindset to me, I want to teach that mindset to my friends.”
His faith commitments, he said, have translated into his other commitments, as well: to his studies, his community league soccer teammates, his sense of purpose even when things get tough.
“My parents have always taught me to never give up,” he said. “Every time I’m on a car ride with my dad, he always gives me tips or advice, to always make sure to do well in school. If you ever fall down, make sure to always pick yourself back up and always keep pushing forward, because all that hard work will eventually pay off in the end.”