• 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • Harrisonburg,  News,  Richmond,  Winchester

    Graduating SLI scholars name university picks

    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
    • The College of William & Mary
    • James Madison University
    • Eastern Mennonite University
    • Bridgewater College
    • Blue Ridge Community College
    • Lord Fairfax Community College
    • Northern Virginia 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, awarding $364,800 in direct student support 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.”

    READ AND WATCH AMY’S INTERVIEW

    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.”

    ADDITIONAL NEWS:

  • Amy, SLI scholar
    Meet SLI Scholars,  News,  Winchester

    Meet Amy, SLI scholar

    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

  • New SLI program directors in Winchester
    News,  Winchester

    New SLI program directors help make college “more than a dream”

    Scholars Latino Initiative has welcomed Ileana Escalante (left) and Ruth Espinoza de Arteaga as program directors for its Winchester program at John Handley High School. Escalante and Espinoza are both Spanish teachers at Handley and co-sponsor the school’s student organization Latinos Unidos.

    “I am honored to work with SLI scholars,” said Escalante. “I passionately believe in empowering Latino students to follow their dreams and achieve their full potential. As a result, I know they will bring growth and positive change to their communities.”

    Established in the Shenandoah Valley in 2012 and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, SLI creates college opportunities for Latino/x high school students through unique programs in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester, Virginia. By collaborating with local university faculty and high school teachers, SLI offers its students rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, and supportive mentorships. 

    Donations from SLI’s community of support allow the organization to offer dual enrollment tuition assistance, computer awards, and college scholarships that further empower its scholars as they pursue a college degree. SLI has awarded $213,000 in scholarships, $46,000 in computer awards, and more than $14,300 in tuition assistance.

    “My main motivation for taking up this responsibility is to support our Latinx students, making them aware that college is more than a dream but a reality for them,” said Espinoza. “Their future is built always in the present, and we can lend a hand to make this dream come true.”

    Since the organization’s formation, SLI efforts at Handley were led by teacher Thomas Robb, who also served on the SLI board of directors through 2020.

    “lleana and Ruth bring a leadership that builds on the foundation cultivated by Tom and others in Winchester,” said Carlos Alemán, university professor and SLI program director in Harrisonburg. “This is an exciting opportunity that will benefit students, and all of us at SLI welcome their energy and vision, expertise, and wisdom.”

  • Events,  Harrisonburg,  News,  Richmond,  Winchester

    Careers Panel Discussion highlights possibilities for SLI scholars

    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.

    Panelists included:
    *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

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