• All topics,  Meet SLI Scholars,  SLI in Richmond

    Meet Maria, SLI scholar

    Mills E. Godwin High School ’22
    Virginia Union University ’25 (English and secondary education)

    By attending college I want to learn how to be the best ESL teacher I can be. I want to learn how English is taught so I can do that well, and I plan to get a master’s degree to expand my options and make me a better educator.

    I also hope to learn more about the world and other people, and perhaps to one day also teach English in other countries. Learning history and about cultures all over the world will allow me to better connect with my students and people around me.

    My family is not able to financially support my education, so I am determined to do my very best to pay my way through college. I have a passion for learning, and will make certain to take advantage of every opportunity I am given to continue my journey. 

    My strengths are in my character and dedication toward achieving my goals. I’ve been told that I am kind and compassionate, which will help me to be a good and understanding college student and future teacher. My determination will help me to keep on track and do the best job that I can towards achieving the future I want for myself.

    Read a 2021 interview with Maria.

  • HHS SLI 2022
    All topics,  News,  SLI in Harrisonburg,  SLI in Richmond,  SLI in Winchester

    SLI grads name college picks

    Pictured: Harrisonburg High School’s 2022 SLI cohort

    HARRISONBURG, Va., June 15, 2022 – Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) scholars graduating from high school have named their university choices.

    Among the colleges and universities selected by the cohort of 18 students – six in Harrisonburg, eight in Richmond, and four in Winchester – are:

    • Bridgewater College
    • Eastern Mennonite University
    • J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
    • James Madison University
    • John Tyler Community College
    • Laurel Ridge Community College
    • Old Dominion University
    • University of Virginia
    • Virginia Union University

    Their anticipated fields of study include computer science, history, nursing, social work, pre-dentistry, and pre-veterinary sciences.

    “SLI produces new opportunities for Latinx students facing struggles during the college process,” said Janefer, a SLI scholar graduating from Harrisonburg High School. “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.”

    At a SLI graduation celebration in Richmond, scholars and their families were addressed by Rubi, a SLI alumna who now works for Gartner, Inc. 

    “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,” she said. “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.”

  • Yoselin
    All topics,  Meet SLI Scholars,  SLI in Richmond

    Meet Yoselin, SLI scholar

    Pictured: SLI scholar Yoselin (Huguenot High School ’24) and her family at her quinceañera in 2021.

    SLI: What are some of your interests?

    Yoselin: I love to draw and write. I am interested in learning about sewing, and I love the thought of designing clothing. Some of my favorite classes are both English and science, which are the main classes I’ve had.

    What would you like to share about your family or life history?

    My parents came from Guatemala to California and later to Virginia. They had me here, in Richmond. 

    What are your college/career goals?

    I want to go to college to experience and learn. I want to learn more about the science of the human body and join the medical field as a registered nurse, or work in the ER.

    Why did you decide to become part of SLI?

    SLI has helped me realize I might need extra help, considering I would be the first in my family to go to college. I do not have an older sibling who has graduated from college and could guide me. I was also interested in the many opportunities that SLI offers, and I met such wonderful people. I even made an awesome friend from SLI and we talk almost every day! I love being part of SLI. It is an incredible experience. I’ve heard from those who have gone into SLI and shared their experiences, and I agree with them: SLI is a life changer, and with the help of everyone I’ve learned so many things since I’ve joined! I do not regret joining.

  • SLI-SHC-Canastas flyer
    All topics,  News,  SLI in Richmond

    Partnership offers $1,000 scholarship for second year

    For the second year, graduating seniors in the Sacred Heart Center (SHC) College & Career-Bound Program can apply to receive a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by Canastas Chicken Restaurants, SHC, Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI), and an anonymous donor.

    Last year’s recipient was Elizabeth, a graduate of Huguenot High School in Richmond with a goal of studying business and becoming a Realtor.

    “There should be no obstacles in life to prohibit you from doing what you really want to do,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “I want to be able to help people find their economical and comfortable home for their future family. In order for me to be able to help out I will have to study very hard and be focused in school.”

    Students can apply for the scholarship here. The deadline to apply is June 24, 2022.

    About the sponsors:

    • Canastas Chicken Restaurants has locations in Glen Allen, Richmond, and Henrico, and boasts “the best Pollo a la Brasa you will ever try.” 
    • Sacred Heart Center (SHC) supports Latinos in Richmond through programs such as adult education, family literacy, citizenship classes, and more. 
    • Scholars Latino Initiative supports Latino/a/x high school students with college access through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, scholarships, and supportive mentorships in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester.
  • Ariel 2022
    All topics,  Expressions of Gratitude,  SLI in 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

  • Richmond SLI 2022 graduation
    All topics,  Events,  News,  SLI in Richmond

    SLI alumna speaks to graduating scholars in Richmond

    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! 

  • All topics,  Events,  Expressions of Gratitude,  News,  SLI in Harrisonburg,  SLI in Richmond,  SLI in 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!

  • All topics,  News,  SLI in Harrisonburg,  SLI in Richmond,  SLI in Winchester

    WHSV Community Spotlight: Scholars Latino Initiative

    WHSV

    By Chelsea Church/WHSV

    HARRISONBURG, VA – “For 10 years, the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) has been helping create opportunities for students at Harrisonburg High School. The organization has several locations in Virginia made up of a group of outstanding students looking to further their education after high school.” WATCH AND READ MORE

  • Meybelline
    All topics,  Expressions of Gratitude,  SLI in 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