Testimonials from mentors


Annika Sampedro

University of Richmond '19
(international studies)

Watch Annika share during Meet SLI - Richmond

"I loved being a mentor for SLI because of the close-knit community of mentors, mentees, families, and staff. I was blessed to mentor an extremely motivated student who not only worked to prepare herself for college, but also always shared this knowledge and supported her peers who were interested in attending college as well. The SLI community is one that values every member and works tirelessly to support Latinx students as they prepare for college."

Brianna Silva

Princeton, New Jersey
University of Richmond '20
(political science, education and society, and law and the liberal arts)

Bonner Scholar

"I love SLI because it supports our bright and motivated Latinx students who are often under served at their schools. Not only does SLI get our first-generation Latinx students college ready, it also values nurturing relationships, as seen with our mentors' three-year commitment to their mentees. I have been fortunate enough to have several mentees over the years, and have loved getting to know about my mentee's dreams and future plans. I continue to learn everyday, the importance of mentorship, and a support system like SLI."

Christopher Cardoso

Blue Ridge Community College
James Madison University '22
(graphic design and interpretation/translation)

Watch Christopher share during ¡Conózcanos! SLI – Harrisonburg

"SLI gave me a sense of purpose and belonging, helped me grow and learn from my community, and has helped build friendships and relationships."


Shenandoah University '21
(music education)
Teaching in Loudoun County (Virginia) Public Schools

Watch Damaris share during Meet SLI - Winchester

"SLI has been such an amazing program to be a part of! As a mentor I've been able to further develop my leadership and communication skills by working with my mentee. We've each grown so much through this program and together we've built a relationship that I will cherish forever!"

Jared Dyke

Winchester, Virginia
Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine ’24
University of Richmond ’20
(biochemistry and molecular biology)

“SLI is important because it grants opportunities to talented students who otherwise might not be able to pursue a college education. My mentee was very smart and hardworking; the papers he was writing for SLI were beyond anything I ever wrote in high school. However, since he will be a first generation college student, it would’ve been extremely hard for him to maneuver the college admissions process without guidance. Watching him get through the admissions process and be accepted to a great university with a scholarship was a very rewarding experience for me.”

Joseph Cooper II

Manassas, Virginia
Shenandoah University ’22
(sports management, psychology)

Leadership award, Sports Business Association

“SLI is important because it provides a direct link for high school students to university students and resources. I have witnessed SLI mentees get help in areas that I wish I had help in before I went to college and I find that to be amazing. I really enjoy witnessing the growth of the mentors and the mentees through the SLI process. It has been nice to learn how important it is to have somebody for the high school kids to look up to and I also learned how important it is to give back to anybody who may need it.”

Laura Perez

Venezuela / Richmond, Virginia
University of Richmond '20
(political science and Latin American studies)

Richmond Award for Political Science
LeSane-Malone Award in Westhampton College

Hear Laura and SLI alumni talk about their SLI experiences here.

"SLI opens a door for bright and dedicated Latinx youth who are passionate about learning and want to continue their education in college. SLI connects mentors who want to give back to the Latinx community with dedicated mentees who receive encouragement and guidance as they approach college. SLI for me was a family that uplifted each other from parents, teachers, professors, mentors, and mentees, and it continues to inspire me."



University of Richmond '21
(biology, anthropology, and healthcare studies)

Hear Lucy share during Meet SLI - Richmond

"Building relationships with my mentees as we go through high school and college together has been an eye-opening way to reflect on my own experiences as a student, and has given me a new perspective on my education. My mentees have become my friends, and I am so grateful when I am able to help them overcome challenges and when I can celebrate their successes with them."

Mehreen Usman

Leawood, Kansas
University of Richmond ’20
(economics and leadership studies)

Fulbright Scholar, Malaysia

“Being involved with SLI was definitely the most meaningful experience of my college career. Many of the students we work with are immigrants, and coming from a family of immigrants myself, I have grown up seeing the additional obstacles that can stand in the way of a quality education. I believe that SLI helps bridge some of the gap to education by providing effective resources, and then the students themselves have the hard work ethic and dedication to achieve their goals…. I was paired with a mentee who I was able to work with for four years and together we worked on her schoolwork, Early College classes, and college applications. We also got close as friends and I was able to witness milestones in her life like attending her quinceañera! Now she has graduated high school and will be attending college in the fall and we are still in touch and I always hope to be in her life.”

Pedro Flor

Minas, Brazil / Delran, New Jersey
Shenandoah University ’24
(accounting and business)

“My SLI experience was amazing. My mentee was on top of things and always completed what he needed to before time. It’s important to make college a priority for minorities. I see a lot of myself in the students and I want to help all of them go to college. Making people comfortable is a learning experience and something I try to do everywhere I go.”

Ricardo Avalos

Alexandria, Virginia
Shenandoah University '23
(voice performance and business administration)

"Nelson Mandela said, 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.' I want to make sure that I contribute to helping students achieve their dreams through education. Looking back, I see myself in the students that I mentor because I also went through the same process. I want to inspire them to pursue their dreams because anything can be possible with hard work and perseverance."

Sandra Reyes

Elizabeth, New Jersey
University of Richmond '21
(leadership studies and Latin American, Latino, and Iberian studies)
Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages in Baltimore, Maryland

Bonner Scholar

"SLI recognizes and actively addresses the inequalities Latinx communities face that prevent them from being able to access a college education. Without SLI, many students in Richmond would not have the opportunity to take college-level classes, which are critical in preparing them for success in college, nor would they have the financial means to go. SLI is important as it ensures that we are investing in the dreams and careers of our Latinx youth. From my time at SLI, I learned the value of mentoring and how much of a meaningful impact that it makes. The students’ resilience and passion inspire me every day and I love that I can support other Latinx students in their dreams of going to college!"

Zachary Perkins

Fort Mill, South Carolina
University of Richmond ’20
(biology and philosophy)

UR Service Award recipient

“SLI is an important way for me to give to the community, but even more so, it is important to the high-school students for realizing their own intellectual potential. From my mentees’ perspectives, I could tell that unlocking the solution to a difficult math problem or understanding a verbose SAT reading section was accompanied by an amazing and rewarding feeling. SLI helped me cement my own love for service which I plan to carry with me throughout my life. It also taught me that although I am in a position of privilege and academic power as a university student, quite frequently, it was the mentees teaching me something new.”

Maribel Cayetano Ramirez

Shenandoah University '18

"Being a SLI mentor was inspiring to me in so many ways. I got to share advice with high school students about taking high school education to the next level, researching a college of their choice, and applying. I know first hand that it's not an easy journey to enroll in a college, much less as a first-generation Latinx student pursuing a college degree."