Somos SLI

Somos SLI

SLI scholars and alumni: Add or update your Somos SLI profile here!


John Handley High School '25

Read Helen's interview

"There are a lot of things that interest me, like the medical field. I don’t know if I want to be a pediatrician, or if I want to be a dentist. I also recently went on a field trip to read with little kids in elementary school, and I’ve always had this inside feeling of wanting to be a primary school teacher. It was like, 'Maybe this is what I’m meant to do.'"


Huguenot High School '24

Read Guadalupe's interview

"This program prepares you for college and how college works. I am thankful for the program, for Professor Kaufman and all the resources associated with SLI."


John Handley High School/Millbrook High School '23
Laurel Ridge Community College
(dental assistance/hygiene)

Watch Ariana's interview

“It’s difficult being a first gen, your parents not knowing the college process or anything like that, and seeking ways to find help or get the help that’s needed to go through college, or find those resources. I think I definitely learned to go for it. Realize that you’ve done a lot already so you will continue doing great things. Seeing myself now and then seeing my younger self is just like, 'You did it. You can keep doing it.'”


John Handley High School '23
Harvard University '27

Read Axel's interview

"Neuroscience goes more into the biology of the brain that can possibly explain how the brain develops differently in different environments. In some of my classes we studied how there’s a prime stage for learning and then after a certain point you can still learn but not as fully as if you had learned it when you were younger. I wonder what else relates to that. A hypothesis I have is about polarization, especially with social media and how maybe algorithms give in to confirmation bias and then that just takes society further apart. I wonder if that has any physiological impacts on the brain and could turn people closed-minded."


Harrisonburg High School ’23
Blue Ridge Community College
(biomedical engineering)

Watch Helen's interview

"In ninth grade I did the first step to making sure I could have the knowledge of how to get into college, which was applying for SLI. With SLI I got some guidance, I got some confidence, different opportunities to improve as a leader and you know develop some skills. You learn about yourself throughout the three years that you're there, and you know they're there to help you."


John Handley High School '23
Dickinson College '27
(political science)

Read Jimena's interview

"My graduation was possible not only because of my personal efforts and commitment, but also thanks to my parents’ unwavering support. They backed me up in every decision I made for my education, and their encouragement is one of the driving forces behind my desire to attend college. My goal is to receive a superior education compared to what my parents were able to obtain in Mexico. They have given me a better life, and I aspire to make the most of this opportunity so that one day I can repay them with the life they truly deserve."


Harrisonburg High School ’23
University of Virginia ’25
(political science/pre-law)

Watch Keiry's interview

"When I think back to my freshman self I think back to a girl that was scared, honestly. I was so shy. One thing that really helped with SLI is that Dr. Alemán involves you. He’ll ask you questions directly, and he’ll put you on the spot, and while at first that was terrifying – I was like, 'Why would you do that to me? I’m so shy!' – but now as I look back it definitely helped because it took me out of my shell."



John Handley High School '23
Hollins University '27
(public health)

Roots: El Salvador

Read Yeyhlin's interview

"I’ve always liked helping people. As I’m the oldest daughter in my family, it’s kind of second nature. Since I was eight I’d play with doctor toys, put on a little lab coat and everything, and then when I started looking at careers I wanted to focus on something that pays well and is something that I am passionate about. [In 2024] I discovered my passion for research and want a career in the CDC."


John Handley High School ’22
Laurel Ridge Community College ’24
(health information management)

Read an update from Adriana

"The first time I entered school I wasn’t sure what was my future, but thanks to many teachers who helped me a lot, I now know what I want. I have a positive attitude to help overcome every hardship, I believe in myself, and I am focused on what is right."


Harrisonburg High School '22
University of Virginia '26
(computer engineering)

Read Alex's interview

"SLI introduced me to ways to give back to the community and help the community become a better place. I didn’t know how to give back to the community when I was a freshman, but SLI introduced me to different things, like volunteering at Waterman Elementary School with Amigos Unidos. That gave me a different view of things, and led me to sign up for more community service opportunities."


Harrisonburg High School '22

Watch Any share

"What keeps me motivated is my future. One day I want to be an independent woman. I don't want to depend on someone else.... I'll be the first child to go to a university for my whole family. I get to experience and face challenges so that one day when my cousins want to go to college, I can be there to support them. And not only that, but I feel like it's going to change my whole family. I'm gonna go out there in the world and explore a little more."


John Handley High School '22
Old Dominion University '26
(nursing, psychology)

Read Gedalia's interview

"I decided to study nursing when I took my first trip to Guatemala in 2018. I noticed the lack of healthcare in Guatemala’s communities. I was shocked to see an elderly blind man begging for money, and I thought to myself, 'How could this elderly man be on the streets?' It quickly struck me that I could one day be the help this elderly man needed. Although I knew it was impossible to help him specifically, I could help others in similar situations. My parents have always taught me to do everything for God and to do it in a passionate way. Pursuing nursing has given me a sense of purpose. I feel that this is what I am meant to do because I will have the opportunity to help God’s children."


Harrisonburg Highs School '22

Watch Grisell share

"We learned about how to tell our own stories rather than having someone else tell our stories for us because most of the time, if you aren't the one who's going to be talking about your story and your life and your experiences, and someone else will be doing it, chances are they're not going to go into full detail or they're going to miss points or they're not going to add things that you or I specifically want to be told. My appearance and my background isn't just a stereotype, because although I've been through many similar things as other people, like immigration, discrimination, and stuff like that, I want to be able to say, 'Here are other things about me that makes me different from other people.' SLI has definitely taught me how to explain myself a lot better and tell my own story to other people."


Hopewell High School '22
Eastern Mennonite University ’26

Watch Guadelupe's 2023 interview, and see her share during Meet SLI - Richmond

"We go through life as followers of the knowledge of others, to not expose ourselves to something unknown. None of my older siblings had the opportunity to go to college.... SLI has encouraged me to be independent, the driver of my path and not a follower. It also helps me improve my written skills, and gives me more confidence speaking English, which is not my first language. SLI is a family and we know we can count on each other.

"I will always be grateful for this opportunity and hope one day I will do the same for others."


Harrisonburg High School '22
James Madison University '24
(biology, medical Spanish)

Roots: Honduras

Read Janefer's letter of thanks

"SLI understands how difficult it is for Latino families to contribute to their children’s education, and produces new opportunities for Latinx students facing struggles during the college process. SLI opens new doors by not only helping us pay our dual enrollment tuition to obtain college credits while in high school, but also by challenging us to serve the community without receiving anything back. It is our choice to help, and we do it with much love and dedication."


Harrisonburg High School '22
Eastern Mennonite University '26

Read Johana's interview

"SLI has created for me a vision for college, how to get into college, how to be a college student but also how to be a better college student. It has also given me a lot of opportunities to be around brilliant people who teach many good things. It has also given me opportunities to work with my community, the Latinx community. I’m so thankful that I’m in SLI, and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things we will do this year."



Godwin High School '22
Virginia Union University '26

Read Maria's interview

"In my first year of high school, I began to notice that my classmates already knew how to write science papers. The most I’d written in middle school was three pages, maybe two pages, but they had already written eight- to 14-page research papers, and had been reading scientific literature. I was like, 'Okay, I am miles behind everyone else.'"


John Handley High School '22
George Mason University '26
(computer science)

Read more about Rosely

"My biggest strengths are my adaptability and optimism, which will continue to help me as I enter college. The tech industry grows and involves at a rapid pace, and I need to be able to adapt to it. The pandemic forced me to become more adaptable to anything and challenged my optimism. However, I figured out how to stay optimistic by taking everything in, letting myself take breaks, and seeing the light at the end even as the world grew bitter. Whatever the industry decides to throw, I know I will be able to adapt and figure out any new technology. And when it eventually gets frustrating, I will remind myself of the light at the end of the tunnel."


John Handley High School '21
University of Pittsburgh '25
(molecular biology)

Watch Amy's interview and read more

"Lots of people think high school is just about going to school and getting good grades, but as a first-generation student, sometimes it’s about building connections. SLI really helped with college especially this year. I didn’t really know about the whole application process for applying to colleges, and I also didn’t know how early you should start, but [my mentor Damaris] would keep texting me and reminding me."


John Handley High School ’21
Laurel Ridge Community College ’23
Shenandoah University '25
(biology, Spanish)

Read an update from Amy

"The aid from SLI has helped me tremendously as a first-generation student. I have not had any financial stress as most of my peers do nor have I taken out loans or have used any other money. I get to focus more on my classes without worrying so much about how I am going to pay for next semester’s tuition. I am blessed and grateful for the opportunity SLI has given me to continue my education. Even a little can go so far for me."


John Handley High School '21
Shenandoah University '25

Hear Everth share during Meet SLI - Winchester and read more about him here

"One of my goals throughout my high school journey was to take as many Advanced Placement courses as I possibly could in order to finish high school with one year of college done. I couldn't have been able to reach this goal had it not been for SLI."


Huguenot High School ’21
Virginia Commonwealth University ’25

Read an update from Galilea

"I am a full-time college student working a part-time job as a vet assistant at an animal hospital. It makes me feel proud knowing that my parents came to a foreign country away from their home to give their children a better life. I am where I am because of their hard work."


George Wythe High School ’21
Eastern Mennonite University ’24
(political science/pre-law)

Read an update from Irais or watch her 2023 interview

"College comes with many challenges and opportunities and also many experiences. I have learned many things in college, but the most important is that our actions determine our results, and that the future we create depends upon the choices and actions we take today. I am thankful for all the help I have received from SLI. Everyone has dreams and goals, and SLI scholarships make things easier for many students."


Huguenot High School '21
Virginia Commonwealth University ’25
(pre-law, criminal justice, homeland security)

Watch Israel share during Meet SLI - Richmond

"That's a very good thing about SLI: You're never alone. You always have somebody to rely on if you need help of any kind. SLI is not just about learning about college skills and getting into college. It's also about having a family and a sense of belonging and people who are there to support you in everything that you do."


John Handley High School '21
William & Mary '25
(public health/data science)

Watch Jennifer's interview

"Not only did [SLI] equip me with a wealth of knowledge about higher education, but it also instilled a sense of belonging within me. Often, students from underrepresented backgrounds experience feelings of displacement or inadequacy. I would say SLI encouraged me to apply for other Hispanic college programs, volunteer opportunities, and colleges because it made me feel worthy of these opportunities."


Harrisonburg High School '21
University of Virginia '25
(public policy and leadership, foreign affairs, astronomy)

Read about Noel


John Handley High School '21
Laurel Ridge Community College

"Ever since I was a child my mother has encouraged my brothers and me to get an education even though we had little money and few options. She instilled within us the importance of education.

I struggled a lot with English when I first arrived in the U.S., which caused many issues as I couldn’t understand what was going on in class. However, with time and lots of hard work I overcame that barrier and got straight A’s for the majority of my classes. 

One of my favorite parts of being in SLI was going to read to little kids who were struggling with reading. It felt amazing to be able to help the kids, as I had once been one of them.

Thanks to your support, SLI has greatly helped many of my classmates and me be able to pay for college."


Huguenot High School ’20
Eastern Mennonite University '24
(political science, history, Spanish)

Watch Ariel's 2023 interview, read a letter of gratitude from Ariel, and listen to Ariel and other SLI alumni talk about their SLI experiences.

“As a Latino, as a minority, you face a lot of issues and difficulty. Thanks to SLI and my mentors, I was able to develop a particular interest in the political field and get into college.”


Huguenot High School '19
Shenandoah University '22
(arts in media and communications)

Hear Ángela and other SLI alumni talk about their SLI experiences during the Meet SLI - Richmond events in 2020 and 2021.

"SLI has changed my life tremendously and has provided me with help in many ways, giving me guidance and helping me financially and emotionally. At the beginning of my freshman year of high school I was concerned that people would look at me differently because I was new at my school, but my main concern was my future, as I thought I was unable to go to college due to the lack of money and my language barrier. But when I had the opportunity to join SLI, I saw doors open my way...."


John Handley High School '19
Lord Fairfax Community College '20
Shenandoah University '22
(business administration, information systems and technology)

“I am so grateful to SLI for helping me in my academic career to this point....SLI is important to me because it has helped shape me into a leader I am today. SLI is a way for students to feel like they have people who believe in them and are there to push them to their highest potential. With SLI I have been able to critically think beyond an education that high school offers. SLI has helped me believe in myself to achieve my dreams and make them into reality despite any obstacles that may come my way. I have learned to not only be a responsible leader for myself but for my community as well. Before I started SLI I was very active in community service but my passion for helping others has grown from the very moment I initiated my intellectual growth in SLI. Throughout my years in SLI, I have been able to grow academically through college seminars. I am a huge supporter of these seminars because it allows students to analyze and comprehend education apart from what your regular high school classes offer. With college seminars, I have been able to learn valuable skills that I will definitely carry with me for the rest of my life.”


Huguenot High School ’19
Shenandoah University '23

Gabriela participates in the Honors program, SLI, and the Leadership and Educational Development Fellows program at SU. Read an update from Gabriela here

"Helping other people has always been something I truly enjoy. I’ve always been a giver, and since I was little I enjoyed finding ways or opportunities where I could help people without expecting anything back. I think that being so passionate about helping others, open minded, and positive will help me be successful in the field."

“SLI has helped me a lot. Thanks to SLI, I’ve been able to be prepared for college, be competent and have confidence in myself.”


John Handley High School '19
University of Virginia '23
(environmental sciences, U.S. Latinx studies)

At UVA Jaime served as a peer mentor for incoming Latinx students transitioning to college and serves on the executive board of the university’s Latinx Leadership Institute. He is now a communications and training associate for Virginia Conservation Network.

"SLI positively impacted me by offering resources to help navigate my high school course selection, helping me develop a critical-thinking mindset through college-level seminars, and financially supporting my community college transfer credits and college expenses."


John Handley High School ’19

“With the college preparation and mentorship, SLI has helped me feel more confident in taking initiative on my own. The college assignments handed to us helped me achieve more in my regular classes by analyzing more thoroughly based on what I had learned from SLI. The community that SLI helps bring together among the Hispanic students, over all, inspires me to become an example for all first generation immigrants that are in my position. By helping me acquire resources, such as college trips, informational programs about college, and helping us discover our passion, SLI helps me set the example of a first generation scholar.”


Huguenot High School ’19
Eastern Mennonite University ’23 (psychology, criminology)

Read an update from Katie

"I never give up. That’s what has gotten me this far, and it will help me to achieve my goal. Sometimes I doubt myself, but then I tell myself to keep trying even if it’s hard, and that I’m capable of doing amazing things, and I have to work hard to get what I wish for. I know that I have to be brave to achieve my dreams, and I think that’s what will lead me to my success."


Harrisonburg High School ’18
Virginia Tech '22
(human development, Spanish, and chemistry/pre-med)

“When I was in high school SLI allowed me to make connections I would’ve otherwise not made. I had the opportunity to talk to many college professors, work with JMU students, and I was able to be part of many informational retreats. All the information that I learned while being a SLI student helped me prepare for college as a minority student at a PWI [predominantly white institution]. My mentors, Carlos Alemán and Hannah Bowman, definitely always helped push me to give my best and I am so thankful they did because it has helped me these past few years.”


John Handley High School '17
(civil engineering)

“One of the most important things SLI gave to me was a window to the college world and showed me that it was an option. I, as a Latino, still have the option to pursue my education and dreams. SLI has always encouraged me to push myself for those harder challenges in the classroom and out. Talking with people that come from the same place as you really makes you realize that you aren’t alone and makes you more comfortable with your own voice. Being comfortable with who I am and where I come from boosted my confidence alongside my ability to lead and represent. SLI gave me the opportunity to ask questions and interact with college students and professors. For a lot of people the transition from high school to college can be somewhat scary. SLI removed that fear because I was already familiar with how to tackle the college transition and life. Taking that fear away is a huge step in moving forward in the pursuit of your education.”


Harrisonburg High School ’17
Bridgewater College '21
(Spanish, family and consumer sciences, child development, and family life education)

Lupe has made the Dean’s List for all six consecutive semesters.

“[SLI was] a support group who are like me and have the same motivation to succeed. My experience as a SLI scholar has only affected my life in the utmost positive ways and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself.”


Harrisonburg High School '17
Blue Ridge Community College

Watch a video about Maria


John Handley High School '16
Shenandoah University

Read more about Elly

"SLI was a very eye-opening program for me. I had amazing mentors who guided me in my educational path, as well as that 'push' to keep me going. From not believing I could obtain a college degree to now working on my graduate degree is honestly a huge blessing and a great honor to my family!"


Harrisonburg High School '15
George Mason University '17

Hear Dulce speak about being one of SLI in Harrisonburg's first scholars