Scholars Latino Initiative scholar Alex (Harrisonburg High School ’22) never planned to attend college in the US, but now hopes to study computer science at a prestigious university here. A restaurant server, writer, and member of the National Honor and Spanish National Honor Societies, Alex is poised for an academically packed senior year. READ THE INTERVIEW
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
Amy’s parents loved taking the family on mini-vacations – so her dad worked extra hours to make them possible. “If you have a good education, you can get good money and you can do these fun things,” he told her. Now Amy (John Handley High School ’21) will study molecular biology at the University of Pittsburgh, thanks in part to help from her SLI experiences. She talked with SLI about the challenges of being the first in her family to go to college. READ MORE AND WATCH THE INTERVIEW
Richmond SLI scholar Guadalupe ’24 enjoys photography, baking, and school – and “will work hard” in SLI toward a professional career.
What are some of your interests?
I enjoy listening to music, as well as working with photography (see above) during my leisure time. Occasionally I am found in the kitchen baking. I enjoy baking brownies as they are a joy to eat and the process is easy. I love attending all my classes, personally I enjoy English and Career and Technical Education classes.
What would you like to share about your family?
I am the oldest daughter of three children. I live with both my father and mother as well as my siblings. My parents have always been supportive of my decisions and have helped me grow as a person full of respect, discipline, and humbleness. I have lived in Richmond ever since I was born.
What are your college and career goals?
I aspire to attend college because I would like to be open to opportunities that can help me enter a professional career. Lawyers and business leaders have always been top interests for me.
How did you learn about SLI, and why did you decide to join? SLI site coordinator Ms. Orellana introduced me to SLI. 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. I hope to learn a lot from this program and will work hard.
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.
Meet Rubi, who says that her SLI experiences were “life changing.” Currently employed by Gartner, Inc., Rubi is an alumna of SLI in North Carolina and of the University of Richmond, where SLI founder Peter Iver Kaufman now holds the University of Richmond’s George Matthews & Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies.
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.
Meet the Scholars Latino Initiative in Richmond in this June 2020 Zoom meeting hosted by Cecilia Barbosa, chair of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board:
Guests and Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) board of directors chair-elect Karina Kline-Gabel and member Chris von Rueden heard from:
- Peter Iver Kaufman, SLI founder and program director in Richmond; Professor, George Matthews & Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies, University of Richmond
- Angela, SLI alumna, Huguenot High School (’19); rising sophomore at Shenandoah University
- Ariel, SLI alumnus, Huguenot High School (’20); entering Eastern Mennonite University
- Blanca, SLI alumna (North Carolina, ’09); University of Richmond and Texas A&M alumna (master’s degrees in public health and biomedical sciences); student affairs, Texas A&M
- Laura, SLI mentor, University of Richmond (’20); Richmond Award and LeSane-Malone Award recipient
- Christopher Clymer Kurtz, SLI Director of Development