The Shenandoah Valley Scholars’ Latino Initiative (SV-SLI) is a realization of the Scholars’ Latino Initiative (SLI) for the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
The initial “parent” SLI organization is housed within the Center for Global Initiatives at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is dedicated to education excellence and equal access for all students. Co-founded by Dr. Peter Kaufman in 2003 with a small yet dedicated group, the organization began with the objective of increasing college access for first generation immigrant Latinos of the communities surrounding UNC. It since has grown to become the flagship service-learning program at UNC.
Here in the Shenandoah Valley, high school students apply for membership to SLI at the end of their 9th grade year. Selected students are held to high standards of academic achievement and are encouraged to pursue opportunities within and outside of the organization that develop character and leadership. In addition to providing opportunities for academic and leadership development, SLI promotes a personal approach to success by matching the high school students into long-term (3 year) mentoring relationships with college students enrolled in area universities.
HARRISONBURG, VA: In April, 2012, SV-SLI selected and inducted three students as Scholars for the Class of 2015. That same month, the SV-SLI formed a partnership with Harrisonburg High School and Eastern Mennonite University to initiate its program. In September, the Scholars were matched with college student mentors from James Madison University’s Centennial Scholars Program. Year 1 focused on developing the mentoring relationship and site visits to local colleges. In May, 2013, a second cohort of 11 selected students were inducted as SLI Members, with four students named as Scholars for the Class of 2016. The students were matched with their college mentors in late October, 2013, and an ad hoc Mentor Support Team of local professionals and college graduates was created to meet new mentoring needs and assist in college site visits. In January, 2014, students began meeting with Dr. Carlos Aleman and Ms. Hannah Bowman every two weeks at Harrisonburg High School, 2:30-4:00PM, for Early College Seminar. In February, 2014, Bridgewater College expressed a commitment to support SLI students admitted to its institution. In April, 2014, a third cohort of ten students were selected from interviewed applicants, five of which were named and inducted as SLI Scholars of the Class of 2017. In April, 2015, a fourth cohort of 12 students were selected from interviews, 7 of which were named as SLI Scholars for the Class of 2018. More importantly, all three scholars from the class of 2015 were admitted to and funded at area colleges.
WINCHESTER, VA: Throughout 2012, SV-SLI worked to develop a program that could serve the northern Shenandoah Valley. In April, 2013, SV-SLI solidified its partnership with Winchester’s John Handley High School and Shenandoah University by inducting three high school students as SV-SLI Scholars of Handley High for the Class of 2016. In October, 2013, the high school scholars were matched with college student mentors from Shenandoah University. The students enjoyed a number of short outings organized by Mr. Paul Burkholder to local historical sites, while Early College seminars taught by Dr. Peter Kaufman and organized by Mr. Tom Robb were held monthly throughout the year at Handley High School. In April, 2014, three more high school students were inducted as SLI Scholars of Handley High School’s Class of 2017, and a process for recruiting college mentors from Shenandoah University was successfully organized by Ms. Maggie McCampbell. That summer, the Scholars met regularly with an undergraduate intern of the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies so as to prepare their personal biographies and enhance their written communication skills. In April, 2015, seven more high school students were inducted as SLI Scholars of Handley High School’s Class of 2018.
Want to get in touch with our SVSLI Blog? Send your E-mail to Dr. Carlos Aleman, SV-SLI University Coordinator for Mentoring and Academic Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.