HARRISONBURG, Va. – ¡10th Anniversary Tapas! will celebrate Scholars Latino Initiative‘s first decade as a Virginia nonprofit supporting Latino/a/x high school students with college access through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, scholarships, and supportive mentorships. Learn all about the October 9 event – and get your tickets! – at vasli.org/tapas.
Photos courtesy of Cris Ramallo Photography: SLI alumna Rubi speaks to graduating SLI scholars and their families; SLI scholars and mentors with Rubi, SLI program director Ester Orellano, SLI founder Peter Iver Kaufman, and Richmond SLI mentor interim president Sofie Martinez; Rubi, an alumna of the University of Richmond School of Business and of the original SLI. Watch Rubi’s 2021 interview
The following is an excerpt of the April 2022 speech to graduating Richmond SLI scholars and their families by Rubi, an alumna of the University of Richmond School of Business and of the original Scholars Latino Initiative.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI).
It had always been my dream to go to college, and when I toured colleges I would get so excited – but always with a nervous feeling in the back of my mind because I didn’t actually know how I would be able to make it to college. The obstacles seemed so daunting. Not only was I clueless about the college application and admissions process, but also – how would I even pay for college?
SLI gave me and my parents hope, and reinforced my belief that if I was dedicated and determined to fight my way through, I could actually go to college! I realized I had to work even harder than some of my high school peers to get to college, but this newfound challenge of getting my grades up to ensure I could qualify for any college drove me to partner even closer with my SLI mentors and peers, as well as with my high school teachers and even with my parents, to execute on a solid gameplan.
I will admit: It was a challenging process. There was so much I didn’t know about the college application process, and my parents didn’t know either, since they had never had the chance to go to college. I would have been so lost had it not been for SLI, my mentor, my other peers in the program, and, of course, SLI founder Peter Kaufman. I had tons of questions at all times, and my parents did, too, but we were blessed to have this incredibly patient and dedicated team helping us get through them all. And eventually, I got accepted into my top-choice school!
I knew that graduating from college would help level the playing field for me as a Latina in the professional world, and I’m proud to say that thanks to my education and the invaluable support I’ve received throughout the years from the SLI family, I now have an amazing job in Washington, DC at the world’s leading IT research and business advisory firm.
SLI not only creates high-caliber students, but incredibly well-rounded individuals with a generous spirit who go on to give even more to their communities and become essential parts of society.
In closing, I want to wish you all the absolute best in your next adventure! There will be challenges for sure, but when you find yourself intimidated or disheartened, always remember this: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” You’re a fighter, you’ve always been a fighter, and that’s why you’ve been handpicked to be in this great program. You have been armed with an incredible network of support, already with so many accomplishments under you, and you will continue to thrive.
I look forward to hearing about all your future successes because I know you will go on to accomplish so many great things!
“What brings you joy?” Watch SLI scholars Guadalupe, Israel, Amy, Rosely, and Gabriela share in this video for the Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham’s Great Community Give:
During the campaign 39 donors contributed $9,350 to SLI’s mission to support Latino/a/x high school students with college access through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, scholarships, and supportive mentorships. Thank you!
A celebration of college access opportunities for Scholars Latino Initiative scholars, COVID-conscious Noche de Salsa ’21 at Steven Toyota in Harrisonburg featured a Latin-flavor drive-thru dinner & margarita with park & watch live Salsa dancing and an online raffle. WATCH THE SLI APPRECIATIONS VIDEO.
Thank you to each guest, event partner, sponsor, and raffle prize donor for making the evening a successful benefit for SLI scholars! SEE DETAILS
Moderated by Karina Kline-Gabel, vice chair of the SLI board of directors and of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, this Scholars Latino Initiative presentation for SLI scholars and additional student groups in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester featured leaders sharing about their careers and professional experiences.
*Maribel Castañeda, Director of Appointments and Director of Latino Outreach, Governor Ralph S. Northam
*Kevin Gabel, Director of Construction Management, Lantz Construction
*Silvia Garcia-Romero, Cultural Diversity Manager, Sentara RMH
*Patty Gavilan, RN, CMI – Manager, Language Services Department, Bon Secours Mercy Health
*Tanya Gonzalez, Executive Director, Sacred Heart Center
*Charles A. Martorana, Valley Region President, Blue Ridge Bank
Thank you, Great Community Give!
Sixty-six donors gave $15,246 to help Scholars Latino Initiative provide college scholarships, computer awards, dual enrollment tuition assistance, and college opportunities for Latinx students.
As SLI alumna Elly said recently: “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!”
Thanks to the Give, SLI’s community of support is growing – which means greater impact for SLI scholars like Elly.
Discover the Scholars Latino Initiative’s Richmond, Virginia, program through the experiences of its scholars, mentors, and founder in this virtual gathering’s highlights reel:
The event was sponsored by Truist Financial and hosted by Lyons Sanchezconcha of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board and Amelia Castañeda of Richmond Public Schools.
Aprenda sobre el programa de Scholars Latino Initiative a través de las experiencias de los estudiantes, los tutores y los líderes de la organización en este evento virtual.
Presentado por Karina Kline-Gabel de la junta Virginia Latino Advisory Board y Sal Romero de las escuelas públicas de Harrisonburg Public Schools. Patrocinado por Rocktown Realty.
In this highlights reel, discover the Scholars Latino Initiative through the experiences of SLI mentors Maya, Damaris, and Joseph and scholars Emily and Everth:
The event was hosted by Bryan Pearce-Gonzales, member of the SLI Board of Directors, professor of Hispanic Studies at Shenandoah University, and member of the WPS School Board.
#SLIGivingTuesday, which raised more than $11,000 to support SLI computer awards and dual enrollment tuition assistance, highlighted SLI scholars, mentors, and board members. Pledged matching funds doubled the impact of generous donors.
GivingTuesday matching funds generously provided by: