In the summer of 2021 Scholars Latino Initiative scholar Johana (Harrisonburg High School ‘22) started her first job, at a department store. She loves helping customers, she said in an interview with SLI, and plans to continue serving others as a nurse practitioner. READ THE INTERVIEW
PHOTO: Harrisonburg SLI’s graduating scholars are (from left) Savannah, Lisbet, Eliana, Leslie, Helen, Jennifer, Luisana, Jan, Noel, and Daniella.
This year’s 22 graduating Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) scholars – 10 in Harrisonburg, five in Richmond, and seven in Winchester – have announced their higher education plans. They will attend:
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Richmond
- University of Virginia
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Virginia Tech University
- Virginia Union University
- James Madison University
- Eastern Mennonite University
- Bridgewater College
- Blue Ridge Community College
- Lord Fairfax Community College
“These scholars represent a positive future for our communities,” said Carlos Alemán, university professor and SLI program director in Harrisonburg. “We’re proud of them and look forward to hearing about their successes in college and beyond.”
SLI supports Latinx high school students through college access program opportunities and access to dual enrollment tuition assistance, computer awards, and college scholarships. For 2021 alone it has allocated $101,000 for direct student funding, building on the more than $273,000 awarded to date.
In addition to providing direct financial support, SLI collaborates with local university faculty and high school teachers to offer its scholars rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, and supportive mentorships, all of which help prepare students for college.
“I am a first-generation student,” said Amy (Handley High School ’21) in a recent interview. “Lots of people think that it’s just like going to school and getting good grades, but sometimes it’s about building connections.”
Her SLI mentor “really helped me a lot,” Amy said. “I didn’t really know the whole application process and I didn’t know how early you should start, but she would keep texting me and reminding me.”
With her new university experiences beginning in just weeks, Amy is looking forward to building new connections.
“I hope I have a good first day, because I’m going to be meeting a lot of people, a lot of teachers, and trying to get my way around,” she said. “But I’m excited.”
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.
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.
The pandemic-friendly Noche de Salsa was a celebration like no other: a drive-through takeout dinner — with live dancers! — in the Steven Toyota service building. READ MORE
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Young | The Breeze
JMU nursing student and Scholars Latino Initiative mentor Jessica Discua-Aguilar said in a celebration of National Hispanic Heritage month that as a first-generation citizen and college student, she at times “felt lost, incapable” even though she “just knew” she had to “make it in America,” she wrote. “I understand what it’s like to not have a mentor or have the resources needed to be successful.” READ MORE
It’s not exactly a ballroom, but the service station at Steven Toyota will serve as the setting for Scholars Latino Initiative’s annual Noche de Salsa event that features dancing and food — just in drive-through style this year. By Sky Wilson for The Citizen. READ MORE
A warm welcome to the members of the brand new SLI Advisory Council! This body, facilitated by SLI Board of Directors chair-elect Karina Kline-Gabel and member Larry Miller and Director of Development Christopher Clymer Kurtz, will advance the expansion of SLI’s network of supporters and advocates to promote SLI’s long-term fiscal sustainability and growth, for the benefit of SLI scholars.
Inaugural council members are:
- Kenia Brooks, Farm Placement Specialist, Virginia Employment Commission, Winchester
- Amelia Castañeda (not pictured), Welcome Center and Family Advocacy Coordinator, Richmond Public Schools, Richmond
- Isabel Castillo, Lead Organizer, Virginia Organizing, Harrisonburg
- Diana Patterson, Owner, DSP Services, LLC, Winchester
- Sal Romero, Jr., Director of Equity and Community Engagement, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Harrisonburg
- Lyons Sanchezconcha, Virginia Latino Advisory Board; Educator, Richmond Public Schools; and College and Career Bound Program Facilitator, Sacred Heart Center, Richmond
Educational inequalities and how SLI opens doors
Scholars Latino Initiative’s director of development Christopher Clymer Kurtz first learned about SLI in 2018 when he interviewed one of its scholars, Mary, for a WMRA report about inequalities in education. He recently reconnected with Mary, and wrote this update. READ MORE