• Gratitude,  Meet SLI Scholars,  Winchester

    A letter of gratitude from Raquel, SLI scholar

    Dear SLI Community of Support,

    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.

    I’m currently studying for a computer science degree, as programming has always been a topic of great interest for me. Thanks to your support, SLI has greatly helped many of my classmates and me be able to pay for college.

    Sincerely,
    Raquel
    John Handley High School ’21
    Laurel Ridge Community College

  • Ariel 2022
    Gratitude,  Meet SLI Scholars,  Richmond

    A letter of gratitude from Ariel, SLI scholar

    Dear SLI Community of Support,

    As a SLI scholar alumnus, I want to express my gratitude to you for your support.

    As an immigrant student, my personal and academic journey has taught me a lot about resilience and persistence. With the help of SLI and even as an English learner in high school, I was able to rank 10th in my class. Now as an undergraduate student in college, I have been on the dean’s list since my first year. 

    Participating in SLI helped me gain vital soft and hard skills that prepared me for my academic career. Additionally, I was able to improve and excel in leadership skills, participating in state-level events and competitions such as the Virginia Future Business Leaders of America and Virginia Boys State of the American Legion.

    After earning a college degree I want to become a politician or policy analyst. I will serve my community, specifically the helpless and unprotected people, the ones fighting the odds of socioeconomic, cultural, and even immigration situations, the ones suffering inequality and injustices. 

    Your support for SLI helps young Latinx students with incredible potential who will give back to their communities, and overall, the entire nation. As is often said, “We cannot help everyone – but everyone can help someone.” If we have the possibility to contribute to a good cause, why should we abstain from doing it? By helping someone, or in this case SLI, we help ourselves in the long run.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Ariel
    Huguenot High School ’20
    Eastern Mennonite University ’24

    Photo credit: Eastern Mennonite University

  • Events,  Gratitude,  Harrisonburg,  Meet SLI Scholars,  News,  Richmond,  Winchester

    SLI scholars share joy and gratitude during the Great Community Give

    “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!

  • Janefer
    Gratitude,  Harrisonburg,  Meet SLI Scholars

    A letter of gratitude from Janefer, SLI scholar

    Dear SLI Community of Support,

    As a SLI scholar, I want to express my gratitude to you for your support for Scholars Latino Initiative.

    Growing up, education was always the first thing. If I would arrive home with a grade below an A, my mother would always tell me, “You need to try harder in order to be able to qualify for scholarships and go to college.” Due to my mother’s hard work of raising me correctly, I was accepted to SLI my freshman year. 

    I am pushing myself to receive a degree in honor of my mother. She wanted everything in education but unfortunately she couldn’t afford it, so she crossed the border for me and my future and that has no price. 

    My college goals are to successfully receive my associate and high school degrees and then continue in a four-year university, attend dental school, and become a successful orthodontist. I will be successful for my mother and those hard working parents who crossed the border for their families. 

    Besides being beneficial to college, SLI has helped me become more outgoing and know what it’s like to help our community, especially those in need. Through community service, SLI scholars help elementary children, adults, homeless people and other people in need in many different ways. We can make a change as high school students. SLI has also helped me become more independent, go my own way, and make a fundraising activity to help us raise money for those who actually are in need. 

    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. 

    Thank you.

    Sincerely, 
    Janefer
    Harrisonburg High School ’22

  • Gratitude,  Meet SLI Scholars,  Winchester

    Thank you! from Everth, SLI scholar

    Thank you. To everyone. To everyone who I have met along every step of my journey, and to everyone who has given me so many opportunities to become a better student, and a better person in general, thank you. Thank you to everyone who has supported SLI because if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to be part of such a wonderful program.

    SLI will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I hope that in the future, I can have the opportunity to become a mentor as well. I wish I could find the words to express how grateful I am but the truth is that I can’t. However, to everyone who has been a part of SLI, I just wanted to let you know that all the effort, time, and sacrifice that you all have placed into this organization has not been in vain.

    All that you have done for me as well as for my sister, we have not taken for granted. Thank you.

    Everth
    John Handley High School ’21
    Shenandoah University ’25
    Read more and hear Everth share during Meet SLI – Winchester

  • Meybelline
    Gratitude,  Meet SLI Scholars,  Richmond

    Thank you! from Meybelline, SLI scholar

    My family and I are very grateful for the SLI computer award. Yesterday my mom and I went to buy the computer I needed for my first year at Virginia Union University. As of today, I will start a few of my classes virtually, and the computer will be a great help (I am emailing you from it).

    I am beyond thankful for this opportunity. My mother works really hard to support me and my sister in everything she can. She’s a strong, amazing woman, always supporting us and being there for us. This award was a blessing for me and we are very thankful.

    Best regards,
    Meybelline and family
    Huguenot High School ’21
    Virginia Union University ’25

  • Gratitude,  News

    “Thank You!” for SLI’s success in 2020

    A letter from Jason Good
    chair, SLI board of directors
    vice president for innovation and student recruitment, Eastern Mennonite University

    Dear SLI Community of Support,

    As 2020 comes to an end, I want to express my gratitude to you for your vital participation in creating college opportunities for SLI’s 114 current and alumni scholars, like Jaime:

    Jaime, SLI alum

    “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.”

    –Jaime, SLI alum
    John Handley High School ’19
    University of Virginia ’23

    The outpouring of support for SLI this year has allowed SLI to expand its 2021 budget for college scholarships, computer awards, and dual enrollment tuition assistance to more than $100,000, a first for this young nonprofit. Thank you for helping to grow SLI’s impact! 

    I am proud of what SLI has been able to offer even during the COVID-19 pandemic. SLI’s program directors at high schools and universities in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester continue to find unique and creative ways to impact scholars, such as:

    • “Early College” seminars with reading and writing assignments on democracy;
    • Workshops on financial aid, scholarships, and the college application process; 
    • Peer mentorship including meeting with new SLI candidates and through individual pairings and student organizations; 
    • “SLI on Sunday” virtual gatherings focused on support and well-being and leadership;
    • Community service efforts such as a voter registration campaign that resulted in 30 new registered voters, including the parents of one scholar. Spring semester activities will include a clothing drive for families in Central America affected by hurricanes, participation in a community campaign for sustainable solar energy, support for an initiative to provide college application assistance and career guidance to Latinx immigrants who have graduated with their GED, and a post-holiday gift grab for elementary and middle-school students who may need to replenish school supplies;
    • Artist meetings with poet and performer Denice Frohman and Peabody Award winning film writer, director, and producer John Valadez, in collaboration with JMU’s Center for Multicultural Student Services and the JMU Honors College; and
    • Book study and capstone project with JMU English Professor Allison Fagan on Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson.

    Again, thank you for being part of SLI’s successes in 2020.

    Wishing you all the best in the new year,

    Jason Good, Chair
    SLI Board of Directors
  • Angela
    Gratitude,  Meet SLI Scholars,  News,  Richmond

    A Reflection of Gratitude: Angela

    Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) alumna Angela (Huguenot High School ‘19) is studying Arts in Media & Communications at Shenandoah University (’23). She shared about her SLI experiences in recent virtual Meet SLI events in 2020 and 2021 and in the following reflection:

    Scholars Latino Initiative 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. I was able to meet more people like me who wanted to achieve their dreams. I was able to connect with important people who would academically guide me to choose the right path for my future. 

    That is something I did not get at home. Because my dad never had the opportunity to go to school and doesn’t know how to read, he was never able to help me fill out important documents for school. But he has been beyond supportive, and I would not be standing where I am right now if it was not for his sacrifice. 

    While I did not have academic guidance at home, I did have it through SLI, thanks to SLI mentors and Peter who took their time to fill out documents I had never even heard of before, like the FAFSA. [SLI founder and Richmond program director Peter Iver Kaufman is a professor at the University of Richmond, where he holds the George Matthews & Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies.]

    Peter taught me how to write 10-page essays and I am grateful for that because if I had not received the help I got from SLI, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to SLI, I have been able to be more confident about my writing, reading, and pronunciation. I’m also able to attend college and achieve my dreams of becoming a communicator and helping my family. SLI has opened doors to places where I never thought I would be.

    Thanks to SLI, I began my education at Shenandoah University in the fall of 2019. As a first-generation college student, the process to get into college was difficult to me at first, but thankfully my SLI mentor guided me throughout the application process and that opened more opportunities to me. 

    When I went to Shenandoah I knew I wanted to study Arts in Media & Communications. This year I took general ed classes as well as Media & Communication classes such as Understanding Media and Communications, Multimedia Journalism, Writing Women, and Role Play and Simulation. I am also taking a summer class (Business & Professional Communication) to keep moving forward with my studies. 

    At the moment I have earned 31 college credits. My plan is to keep going and graduate, to achieve my dreams.

    My priorities are school and to help my mom bi-weekly. I work a full-time job from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday. I try to provide my family in El Salvador with the things they need, as my mother and brother currently have an unstable well-being and I am the only person that can really help them. But as I do that, my priority is also school and being able to keep it going to have a successful future.

    I also have Spanish conversations for the students at Shenandoah who are currently learning the language. I do that as a work study position during the school year and over the summer, but my main purpose of being part of the Spanish conversations is to help students learn the language. 

    I am proud that one of my professors has recommended me to the Honors Program, and I am currently in the process of becoming part of it. 

    This past year I also had the honor of being elected as the student SLI coordinator for Shenandoah University and being a guide to the Handley High School students who are currently enrolled with SLI. As Elly, the most recent SLI coordinator and a great student and person, leaves Shenandoah, I am beyond grateful for this opportunity that has been given to me. This is something I can do to give back to the program that opened doors for my future.

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