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Profiles: Class of 2013


Founded in 2003

Mentors Latino high school students grades 10-12

Offers college prep, early college experience, public service and cultural enrichment

SLI graduates accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill, Mary Baldwin, NC State, NC A&T, UNC-Charlotte, Peace College, Amherst, MIT, University of Richmond, Guilford College, California State - Long Beach, and Meredith College

SLI STUDENTS The talented students of the Scholars’ Latino Initiative (SLI) are chosen from select North Carolina high school during their sophomore years. Teachers, coaches and staff cooperate to choose Latino students exhibiting exceptional motivation, strong academic potential and the desire for higher education. The selection process ensures that the SLI students are evaluated from a variety of important perspectives

2013 GRADUATES JORDAN MATTHEWS HIGH SCHOOL Olivia Aguila Josue Turcios Jazmin Bacilio Jose Contreras Itzel Melissa Silva-Cruz Judith Rosales Selena Nataly Borrayo Gemma Herrera David Arellano Yaninsa Trejo-Miranda ASHEBORO HIGH SCHOOL

SLI MENTORS Undergraduate scholars from the University of North Carolina, carefully selected through an application and interview process,

Selena Aguilar Vanessa Torres Yoali Rosas Jesus Garcia

agree to a three-year mentoring commitment. The mentors assist


SLI students based on their individual academic, emotional and

Salomon Ariza Maricarmen Gamez Jazmin Bacilio Kevin Hernandez Citali Collazo

social needs. Mentors are available for individualized work but also participate in college skills workshops, SAT prep and cultural enrichment events to engage students in the college culture.

LEE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL Rebeca Dagesi Nava-Puerto Jason Aguilar Angel A Flores SOUTHERN LEE HIGH SCHOOL Rogelio Vivas Sergio Avila

SCHOLARS’ LATINO INITIATIVE Center for Global Initiatives

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill FedEx Global Education Center 301 Pittsboro Street Suite 3004 | CB # 5145 Chapel Hill NC 27599-5145 P: (919) 843-5286 | F: (919) 962-5375 |


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Gemma Herrera High School: Jordan Matthews High School Place of Birth: U.S. Years of Education in the US: 11

College Interests: Nursing, Photography, Spanish Extracurricular: Varsity Soccer (3.5 years); Varsity Cheerleader (4 years); Class Secretary (1 year); HOSA Club (V.P./President Elect), BETA Club (2 years); LEO Club (2 years); DECA Club (1 year); Camp CAUSE (2 summer camp terms); Upward Cheer Coach (1 year); Bible School Teacher (5 years) While extensively engaged in the extracurricular activities listed above, Gemma managed to excel in advanced placement courses in English III and IV, Psychology, Spanish and Statistics. Gemma credits SLI with helping her become aware of what to expect from college. She realizes that pursuing a nursing career will be difficult and she needs to be prepared for rigorous work. Reflecting on what she has learned from her participation in SLI, Gemma writes “SLI has taught me how to write more properly in essays and to speak to an open public. It has taught me to strive for what I want in life and that no matter what anybody can accomplish their dreams if one sets their mind to it. SLI has helped me grow to become a better person and to become more prepared for what might come next.” Gemma believes she has become a more independent learner through SLI, and has “become more organized with school deadlines as well as CPS assignments. SLI has given me the insight to understand college level of reading, which is very helpful when it comes to schoolwork. This program has taught to strive more in my grades and never give up. Without SLI I would not have pushed myself the way I do now to reach for the best.” “My greatest challenge has been to overcome my fear of not being able to reach my goals in life,” Gemma notes. “SLI has helped me break this mentality and it has shown me that anything is possible as long as you work hard for it and as long as you are passionate for it.” Gemma also quotes from Philippians 4:13, which reads “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE José Ramon Contreras Rangel High School: Jordan Matthews High School

Place of Birth: Tuxtepec, Oaxaca Mexico Years of Education in the US: 12 College Interests: Mathematics, Science Extracurricular: BETA (1 year);
HOSA (1 year). Reaching one’s potential requires a desire to challenge oneself and perform above expectations. José Contreras Rangel has done just that, taking and excelling in challenging courses, including AP Chemistry and AP Statistics. A talented mathematician and budding scientist, José has pursued his love of math and science in the classroom, and SLI has been there every step of the way. When asked how SLI has affected his academic career, José replied that the change in mentality, from only “taking classes I need to graduate” to taking the “initiative to start new challenges” has been the biggest transformation. “I have started to take AP classes, which at first I was afraid of doing,” writes José. “I know it will be hard, but if I try, I will overcome them.” Participation in SLI has led to new opportunities for José. With SLI’s help, José writes, “I could possibly the first of my family to ever finish high school and go on to college.” Staying true to his desire to take on and overcome new challenges, José has enrolled in four AP courses next year, including AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP Literature and Composition, and AP Psychology. José’s determination and “will to do his best,” sets him apart, both academically and personally, and he has been an incredible addition to the SLI community. When asked what he appreciated about himself, the value he places on relationships was evident. “I am shy, though when you get to know me, I guess I’m pretty funny.” “This is coming from my awesome friends.” Through SLI, José has taken the opportunity to build relationships, enroll in college-level course work, take on new challenges, and lay the groundwork for his college dreams. With his drive to succeed, he knows he is ready to tackle whatever comes his way.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Judith Rosales High School:

Jordan Matthews High School

Place of Birth: San Miguel, El Salvador Years of Education in the US: 8 College Interests: Biology, political science, medicine Extracurricular: HOSA (2 years, secretary and parliamentarian); STARS (1 year, president); BETA (1 year); National Technical Honor Society (1 year); Skills USA (2 years, president and historian); LEO (1 year); Scholars Latino Initiative (2 years) Judith Rosales has excelled in her high school academic career, earning top grades in advanced placement courses, including AP Government and Politics, AP Language and Composition, AP Chemistry, and AP Psychology. More recently, she was awarded the prestigious Golden Door Scholarship, which provides full four-year tuition for a college of Judith’s choice. Since becoming a SLI mentee, Judith’s mentor, Karen Obando, has helped her “feel closer to college than I had ever felt before. She has done this by answering the “many questions that I ask her about college …one day she made me look up for information on different colleges that I want to attend and she also sent me the essays that she wrote to colleges. Those essays made me realize how...good writer she is! She is awesome!” Participation in SLI has given Judith the opportunity to attend college and pursue her dream of becoming a pediatrician. She writes, “SLI is the chance to be successful despite the various obstacles that I have to confront, like being an undocumented student and not having enough resources to go to college. The organization has provided for me an amazingly helpful mentor and a clearer look at the opportunities that I have available. Thanks to this organization, I now know that I can overcome the barriers that keep me from becoming the person that I desire to be.” Rena Avramidis, SLI’s co-director, took a moment to describe Judith’s incredible spirit and contribution to the SLI community: “Judith…possesses a maturity beyond her years. I am constantly amazed by her ability to carry herself so eloquently in speech and in writing, all the while maintaining the upmost level of humility. Last winter, Judith approached me about getting SLI involved in a school fundraiser for the Salvation Army. She then spoke in front of the whole SLI community (100+ people!) about the importance of giving back, no matter how much one can contribute. Judith is a role model in the SLI Community; she comes to every SLI event prepared and eager to learn, with a huge smile on her face. It is truly a pleasure to interact with such a talented and compassionate individual.” As a SLI mentee, Judith “tried extra hard in school. I have become a stronger academic individual. My mentor and other SLI figures have advised me to take honors and Advanced Placement classes to prepare myself as much as I can for an education in the future. Also, since SLI has started counting community service as a priority, I have gotten more involved in helping the community; I even joined LEO club, which is an organization that is all about community service. SLI has definitely affected my academic career because it has given me the inspiration I needed to do my very best in school.” Through SLI, Judith has become a strong learner and leader who now places a very high priority on education. 5

scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Rebeca Dagesi Nava-Puerto High School: Lee County High School Place of Birth: Guadalajara, Mexico Years of Education in the US: 7 College Interests: Criminal Justice, Political Science, Psychology, French Extracurricular: Soccer (2 years, 15 hrs/wk, Captain); National Honors Society (1 year, 1hr/month); SGA (1yr, 1 hr/wk, Junior Secretary Treasurer); International Club (1yr, 2 hrs/wk); Mock UN (1 year, 1 hr/wk); Key Club (1 year, 1 hr/ wk); Drill Team JROTC (1 year, 6 hrs/wk) Few students are as caring, intelligent, and driven as Rebeca Nava-Puerto. Rebeca has consistently taken and excelled in the highest course offerings her high school has to offer, including taking AP U.S. History and enrolling in AP Government, AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC. Rebeca has excelled in these classes despite her many extracurriculars and having to learn English as a second language. She describes this as one of her greatest achievements so far. “Coming to this country at a very young age I did not speak much English. My mother always told me that if I worked hard I would not have a problem with it. She would make me study extra hours and practice over and over...thanks to all the hard work I was only in the program of ESL for one year...I started taking honors classes and later on in high school I challenged myself with AP classes.” Her drive is unique because of her desire to consistently improve herself, both academically and personally. She admits that discipline was not always one of her strong suits. “I was not happy with what I had become” writes Rebeca. However, she did not simply accept her weaknesses. Instead, she joined the JROTC program and developed strong teamwork skills, discipline, and a desire to help others. It is this desire that drives her today. “In ten years I plan to graduate from Law school. I plan to help minority groups and fight for their rights and the injustices they have been put through.” Rebeca also writes that one of her long-term goals is to “create a charity for paraplegic patients and help them pay for treatment.” It is Rebeca’s desire to challenge herself in coursework that really makes her stand out, and she has consistently excelled in the SLI assignments. “With the classes we take and assignments we get I have learned that the expectations are different. The assignments we get are different than my typical English assignment in high school. The SLI assignments require a higher level of thinking and research. Thanks to all the assignments and guidance I have received from my professors my writing skills have improved. I have become a better writer and learned how to manage my time better with my assignments.” SLI has been critical to bringing together Rebeca’s dream to go to college, when reflecting on her mentality freshman year, Rebeca writes: “SLI has changed my life in many ways. Before SLI I had no idea how to get into college, it was a goal that I thought I could never reach...SLI opened the doors for me and made me realize college was possible for me..and [gave] me a wonderful mentor.” 6

scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Yaninsa Trejo

High School: Jordan Matthews High School Place of Birth: San Miguel, El Salvador Years of Education in the US: 10 College Interests: History, Political Science, Language, Anthropology Extracurricular: Track (1 year, 8hrs/wk); Skills USA (1 year, 2hrs/wk). It takes a special type of student to move forward in the face of extreme difficulty. Yaninsa has consistently taken these seemingly insurmountable barriers as opportunities to succeed. In her AP Chemistry class, Yaninsa admits “The first month I was lost.” “The whole class was in another language to me. But now that it’s over I think I can honestly say that it was worth it.” “It was by far the most challenging thing that I have done in my whole life. It took effort and courage to not give up. In the end, I got a lot of knowledge I would have never...thought I’d learn in my lifetime.” Yaninsa is no stranger to difficult classes. An accomplished track and field member, she has still taken a large number of AP classes, including AP Government and Politics, AP English III, AP US History, AP Psychology, and of course, AP Chemistry. Yaninsa’s mentor, Rena, has been a constant support and helped her and her mom navigate the college process. “If it wasn’t for having a mentor I would probably be having extreme panic attacks about getting into college. Rena has created a spreadsheet where I can write down colleges that I want to go to and then we talk about them. She asks me what classes I am taking or will take and how I am doing in them. When I have doubts I know I can turn to her and she will reassure me that I can do this and help me believe in myself.” Yaninsa notes that SLI has also been a resource for her mom, and has allowed Yaninsa, Rena, and her family to team up to make Yaninsa’s college dreams a reality.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Salomon Ariza High School:

Chapel Hill High School

Place of Birth: Chapel Hill, NC Years of Education in the US: 12 College Interests: Medicine Extracurricular: High School Soccer (3 years, 10 hrs/wk); Latino American Student Association (1 year, president); National German Honors Society (1 year, 1 hr/wk); National Spanish Honors Society (2 years, 1hr/wk); National Honors Society, Manager of Women’s Soccer Team (2 years, 10hrs/week); Leader of a Dance Group (4 years, 1 hr/week); Unity Club (1 year, 1hr/wk); Teen Court Jury Volunteer. In addition to the his amazing amount of extracurricular involvement and leadership, including being the president of the Latino American Student Association, leader of a dance group, and a member of his high school soccer team, Salomon has taken and excelled in the highest-level of course work at his school. Salomon has taken five AP courses (AP World History, AP Spanish Language, AP Calculus AB, AP Biology, and AP Physics) and is enrolled in three more (AP Spanish Literature, AP Statistics, and AP English Literature). Salomon has consistently excelled, including earning 1st place in the state for the National Spanish Exam for three straight years. Salomon believes that SLI has provided him with critical help on his writing, interview skills, preparedness for college, as well as with a supportive community. “SLI has been like family to me. I have enjoyed going to the SLI events and have learned to prepare myself for college as well as how to go through interviews. I have also developed a good friendship with my mentor.” When asked about his greatest challenge, Salomon replied that it “has been juggling school and all of the extracurricular activities that I am involved in.” However, with SLI support, he knows he can overcome these challenges and excel, and he believes the work is worth the price. “I am determined at doing everything that I do well.”


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Carlos Roberto Carvajal High School: Southern Lee High School Place of Birth: Honduras Years of Education in the US: 6

College Interests: Computer Engineering and Business Administration Extracurricular: Work at Food Lion 31 hrs/wk (summer), 20hrs/wk (School); Mock UN (1hr/wk); Sunday School Teacher (2hrs/wk). It’s rare for to encounter a student whose value of hard work matches that of Carlos Carvajal. Carlos works 20 hours per week at Food Lion during the school year, participates in Mock UN, and still manages to obtain top grades in his classes. Through SLI, Carlos has had the opportunity to take college-level coursework taught and graded by college professors at UNC. In Carlos’ words, “SLI has given me a chance to see how life is in college and also to experience college classes,” writes Carlos. He also notes that the opportunity to work on college level assignments has been one of his favorite parts of SLI. What exactly motivates Carlos? The support of his mentor, Rachel, who has invested in Carlos and motivates him to always be the best he can be. “She has taught me how to be better and responsible in all of the assignments I do” writes Carlos. SLI has also provided relational support, as Carlos is quick to point out. “I have also made a lot of friends.” Additionally, it has also allowed him to work towards his dream of living abroad. “In 10 years I will have my own business in a different country...I want to have my own car, house, and travel.” We know that Carlos can achieve his dream, and that college is his chance to work towards his goals.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Kevin Hernandez High School: Chapel Hill High School Place of Birth: Mexico City, Mexico Years of Education in the US: 12 College Interests: Law Extracurricular: Arts Center in Carrboro, Teachers assistant at CHHS Coming from Mexico, Kevin learned quickly that he had the unique opportunity to learn two languages, a skill that he has cultivated as he pursues his future career in Law. Kevin has consistently challenged himself by taking advanced placement (AP) classes, such as AP Spanish Literature, AP Spanish Language, and AP Environmental Science. In ten years, he wants to be practicing Law, and Kevin has a knack for accomplishing what is needed to reach his goal, including applying and being accepted to the Scholars’ Latino Initiative his sophomore year of High School “SLI has become a part of my life and has helped me grow, mature and has helped me get serious about college.” Kevin and his mentor have joined together to discuss the challenges involved in the college application process and find the resources Kevin needs to succeed. With this support, Kevin’s goal of attending college has become a reality. “My relationship with my mentor with helped me prepare for college because she is a great role model. Whenever we talk about school she encourages me to talk to my teachers and counselor about colleges that are right for me.” We know that Kevin will continue to challenge himself, and we are confident that with the right support, he will excel in the next stage of his education.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Angel Antonio Flores High School: Lee County High School Place of Birth: Chapel Hill, NC Years of Education in the US: 11 College Interests: Computer Engineering, Architecture, Computer Science, Automotive Engineering, Drafting Extracurricular: JV Soccer (1 year); Skills USA (1 year); AVID (4 years); National Honors Society (1 year). Early in life, Angel Flores learned to balance competing demands and overcome barriers common to first and second generation immigrant students. He managed to attain superior English language skills while only speaking Spanish at home. On top of this, he has maintained excellent grades and involvement in extracurricular activities while working up to 30 hours per week. He is not only an inspiration to his fellow SLI students, but also to the student body at Lee County High School. Prior to her study abroad experience, Angel’s mentor, Giovana Espejo, would call him on a weekly basis, at a minimum, and he appreciates the wonderful resource she has been throughout their mentoring experience. “Any questions or concerns I have, she finds answers to them. She gives her perspective of college which really helps me imagine what college is about. Having a mentor that has had first-hand experience about the college process is a great resource to have. These things have helped me realize that getting into college is not as hard as I thought it was.” SLI brought out Angel’s innate scholastic gifts. He received an A+ in AP U.S. History and is especially proud to have been selected for membership in the National Honor Society. Angel’s sense of achievement also comes from rigorous academic preparation through SLI. He writes, “having a SLI College Prep Class has really improved my academic career, mostly in Writing/English. Having an actual college professor grade my work helps me improve upon on it.” Articulating a clear career path is a rarity for most high school students, but Angel has maintained his focus on pursuing a career in either Drafting/Architecture or Computer Engineering. “If it’s the path of Architecture I hope of having my own business in designing houses/buildings for other business. If I decide to work with computers I hope to be working for a big companies such as Google.” Angel has attributes for success. He describes himself as “a person that does not allow for people or other things to keep me from achieving my goals. I always work hard even when I know that things are going to get more difficult and I take every small step necessary to be successful knowing that at the end it will pay out.” Great words of wisdom from LCHS senior Angel Flores!


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Fanni Vanessa Torres High School: Asheboro High School Place of Birth: Mexico Years of Education in the US: 11 College Interests: Business, Travel & Hospitality Extracurricular: DECA (2 years+)

SLI has been important to Fanni on many levels. In addition to the challenging classes she has taken, the SLI experience has given her insight into college life and an extra push to succeed. “We have classes with the professor and we discuss certain topics that I’m sure we would do as we get into college.” Her family has also benefitted from involvement in the program. She writes “SLI has always been there for my mom…when she has questions about college.” Fanni’s biggest obstacle to academic success has been “self-control;” meeting deadlines, managing work time, etc. It has been beneficial for her to talk over issues with her mentor, Nina Bryce. If she has questions, she always feels free to email her. Fanni is very proud of her involvement in DECA. She scored in the top ten in two categories: “role play” and “overall.” She enjoys interacting with people, which is leading her to pursue a career in travel and tourism and to manage her own business.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Josue Turcios

High School: Jordan Matthews High School Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California Years of Education in the US: 12

College Interests: Mathematics, Computer Science Extracurricular: Quiz Bowl (4 years); BETA (2 years); Cross country (1 year); Track (2 years); Piano (2 years); JM Choir (2 years).

Josue’s story, beyond his academic talent and performance, has been one of continuously surmounting challenges that exist in his life. As a QuestBridge finalist, a prestigious program that connects the most outstanding, low-income high school student to top-tier partner universities, Josue has overcome economic barriers to excel academically in high school, However, his academic performance doesn’t tell the full story. “A community that allows my dreams to develop.” That’s how Josue describes SLI and what it has meant to him. The opportunity to push himself and connect with other students has been invaluable to him, and it is the prospect of further challenge himself that attracts him to the invigorating and demanding college environment. Given his history of overcoming obstacles, it is no surprise that the opportunity for growth appeals to him. Josue knows that this process of improvement is difficult, but in his own words, college “will..allow me to handle failure in a constructive fashion.” Josue also believes the next four years will allow him to expand his personal sense of dedication and persistence. During his college prep seminar in SLI, Josue recalls discussing The Namesake with Dr. Hogan as one of his favorite moments, despite Josue’s opinion that literary analysis isn’t his strength. Rather than interfering with his desire to pursue certain subjects, this drive to improve motivates him to explore new and diverse pursuits. Josue hopes to one day use his dedication, persistence, and entrepreneurial spirit to investigate how technology can be used to help people. Josue’s ideals and desire to help people has changed the way he has approached his academic career, and he is driven to leave a mark on this world. We believe Josue, like many others, will continue to demonstrate the work ethic that will allow him to succeed. Unlike most others, however, we know he is someone who not only desires to change the world and create more opportunity for others, but will not rest until he has accomplished his goal.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Jason Aguilar

High School: Lee County High School Place of Birth: Huehuetenango, Guatemala Years of Education in the US: 6

College Interests: Graphic Design, Digital Arts and Film, Computer Engineering, Architecture Extracurricular: Soccer(1 year, 18 hrs/wk); National Honor Society (1 year, 1 hr/wk); Skills USA, (1 year, 2 hrs/ week); Generación Escojida- Youth Group (2 years, 5 hrs/week). Jason is a unique student at LCHS. He has maintained straight A’s since his freshman year, speaks three languages, is one of a very few ESL students to have taken Honors classes, and is sought after for his self-taught skills with PowerPoint and Adobe After Effects. Jason was nominated and accepted for membership in the National Honor Society, competed in SkillsUSA and played soccer for LCHS, largely due SLI’s encouragement. Jason has taken and excelled in his High School course work, including challenging himself with AP courses in U.S. History, Spanish and Government. Jason and his mentor, David Gahary, have forged an important relationship. David has made trips to Sanford to help Jason prepare for the SAT and engage in social activities. They talk to each other on the phone every weekend. Jason appreciates David’s meticulous, committed approach to mentoring, noting “David gave [me] a full SAT practice test and timed each lesson. We spent four hours on an overview of the topics in the SAT. After we finished...the SAT practice test, we went over each question I got wrong. David had the answers for every question I had about the SAT. Taking the SAT practice test helped me a lot when I took the SAT.” “SLI means guidance and encouragement to me,” writes Jason. “SLI has been a guide for me to be well prepared for college with all the helpful information about how to get admitted in colleges, why it is important to take the SAT, and how to get scholarships. SLI has encouraged me to grow academically by encouraging me to take AP and Honor classes and helped me be more involved in school and my community.”


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Jazmin Bacilio

High School: Jordan Matthews High School Place of Birth: California, US College Interests: Undecided Extracurricular: Habitat for Humanity (1 year); BETA Club, (2 years, 1hrs/wk); LEO Club, (2 years, 2hrs/month, Secretary 2012-2013); Art Club, (4 years, 2hrs/wk, Treasurer 2010-2011); A.I.M. Club, (4 years, 0.5wk/month). Jazmin Bacilio is one of the most involved students in SLI, and once she starts with an organization, she stays with it. Jazmin has worked with the Art Club since 2009 and with the BETA and LEO Clubs since 2011 - serving in positions such as secretary and treasurer. She has matched this involvement with rigorous classes, including AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition. Jazmin has a natural drive to work well and meet deadlines on her own, however, she also finds the opportunity to interact with college professors, and work on college-level assignments very valuable. She enjoys receiving feedback on the assignments, noting the College Prep Seminar “is a great learning experience and helps me to understand where I can improve.” Among her strengths, Jazmin rates perseverance as number one. “I see most things to the end and have a willingness to keep going.” She is also straight-forward (“I get to the point and have a tough time adding fluff to conversations or essays”). She uses her shy nature to her advantage in order to observe and learn from others. “I don’t talk much and tend to watch others. I let the information set in and understand when it is appropriate to answer or give my opinion on the subject. This skill also allows me have a critical eye and enrich my artwork by taking note of the lighting.” The volunteer component of the SLI program has challenged Jazmin in terms of the need to be outgoing but she has gotten a great deal out of the experience; for example, selling a few of her pastel artworks and directing the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity. Above all, the SLI program has encouraged Jazmin to “take challenging courses and be a leader in [her] community.”


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Maricarmen Gamez High School: Chapel Hill High School Place of Birth: Guanajuato, Mexico Years of Education in the US: 12 College Interests: Baking, Cosmetology Extracurricular: Babysitting (daily) Some students are content to sit around and wait for their dreams to materialize. Maricarmen is not one of those students. With a passion for cosmetology, baking, and culinary arts, Maricarmen has dived into her interests, and is exploring them through a variety of avenues. At her high school, she is taking courses in pastry making and baking, and has started course work at Alamance Community College, where she has completed over a third of her degree in cosmetology. Maricarmen credits SLI with exposing her to the possibility of a college education and the various financial opportunities available which would allow her to attend. When asked about challenges she has faced, Maricarmen writes “my greatest challenge has been not giving up on my education” and cites reaching senior year as one of her greatest achievements. Far from giving up, Maricarmen’s entrepreneurial and ambitious personality has led her to pursue her passions and make her plans a reality. Her resilient spirit has been both inspiring and instructive to watch, and she doesn’t mind being her own person, either. Maricarmen can often be found showing off the variety of hairstyles she is practicing. According to her mentor, she is “an embodiment of her passion in cosmetology.” More than that, Maricarmen has shown herself to be an embodiment of all it means to strive towards one’s goals. Her mentor has been proud to see everything she has accomplished on her own, and continues to act as both a resource and a friend. Most recently, they have been sharing literary interests and investigating even more topics to explore. We know that whatever Maricarmen ends up pursuing she has the passion and the drive to succeed, and we are behind her in pursuing her career dreams.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Olivia Aguila

High School: Jordan Matthews High School Place of Birth: Chapel Hill, NC Years of Education in the US: 12

College Interests: Education, French, Spanish Extracurricular: Restaurant Cashier (6 months, hours vary); Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) member (4 years, 4 hours monthly). Olivia has taken advanced placement classes in English III, English IV, Psychology and Statistics. Olivia and her mentor, Alice Moffit, have become close friends, and enjoyed spending a weekend together in Alice’s hometown. Alice advises her on how to best prepare for exams and has enabled her to experience campus and academic life during their times together on the UNC campus. Involvement with SLI has pushed Olivia to be more organized and more focused on academics. Her work in writing definitely paid off when she achieved a 600 on the SAT writing score while still in her junior year. Beyond academic preparation, she values the exposure SLI has given her to the higher education environment. “SLI has introduced me to the diversity of a college campus, something I would not have gotten elsewhere.” Capitalizing on three traits she believes make her unique, being organized, focused and responsible, Olivia hopes to become an elementary school teacher and settle into a career in the education field. Olivia’s leadership was recognized school-wide when she became president of the Future Business Leaders of America in her junior year. Although it has been a challenge, she has used the opportunity to “come out of my shell and take initiative to lead others in the right direction.”


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Yoali Alejandra Rosas High School: Asheboro High School Place of Birth: Anaheim, CA Years of Education in the US: 11

College Interests: Education and Nursing Extracurricular: Photography Club (1 year, 1 hr/wk); Page Masters (1 year, 2 hrs/wk); International Club (3 years, 3 hrs/wk); HOSA Club (Treasurer, 2-3 hrs/wk), Latino Coalition (3 hrs/2wks). Learning is the first step towards teaching. In the future, Yoali wants to be a teacher, but for now, she is firmly focused on developing the skills that will benefit her later on. Yoali’s “willingness to learn” has helped her excel in the classroom, taking advanced placement (AP) courses such as AP English Literature and AP Earth and Environmental Science. Her SLI mentor has been a huge part of that: teaching her study habits, discussing standardized tests like the SAT, and being a support. “Thanks to SLI, I now try my best to challenge myself to do better in school. For example, now I try to take higher classes like AP’s and to be in more clubs than before.” Yoali isn’t just a bookworm – community is one of the fundamental reasons she loves SLI and the “SLI Familia.” “SLI has shown me many new ways of learning about myself and my Latino community. I love being surrounded by other Latinos who are just as enthusiastic about our community and attending college as me. SLI is not only an academically beneficial program but also a great way to meet new people.” Self-discipline and the desire to excel are gifts that Yoali will continue to utilize throughout her college career, and we know she will succeed in whatever field she pursues.


scholars’ LATINO INITIATIVE Selena Aguilar Cecilio High School: Asheboro High School Place of Birth: Chapel Hill, NC Years of Education in the US: 12

College Interests: Math, Science, Medicine, ROTC, Foreign Languages Extracurricular: HOSA (4 years, 1 hr/wk + Saturday activities); JROTC (Squadron Commander, 3hrs/wk + weekends). Leadership isn’t something that comes naturally to all high school students, but for Selena, it is something that drives her. As squadron commander of her JROTC Unit, Selena knows how to achieve her dreams, and she has her sights set high. Through SLI, Selena has learned how to systematically work towards those goals, despite the obstacles that exist. “No one in my family went to a 4 year college. I found myself confused on as to where to start. SLI helped me find myself and find my path” “I remember back freshman year thinking ‘I wish I could become Unit Commander for my AFJROTC Unit.’ Never in my life did I actually think I would achieve it. If it wasn’t for SLI and other courses I have taken I doubt I would be the AFJROTC unit commander like I am now.” Being a Unit Commander hasn’t been easy. Selena has had to deal with difficult cadets and stay up late at night planning schedules, but she says the experience has taught her patience, leadership, and teamwork. “Being patient is one of my big virtues” writes Selena. She also identifies her ability to both “lead and to follow at the same time” as one of her unique attributes. In addition to her responsibility as a JROTC Unit Commander, Selena has intentionally enrolled in difficult courses that prepare her for the rigor of college, including advanced placement collegelevel coursework like AP Biology. Selena has set ambitious goals for herself, and she credits her mentor for providing encouragement and guidance every step of the way by taking her to ROTC meetings at UNC, explaining the importance of studying, and being the “sister she never had.” Thanks to Selena’s commitment to discipline and challenging herself, she is one step closer to being the first in her family to attend college, and SLI is honored to work with her through the process.


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SLI Class of 2013 Mentee Profiles  

Scholars' Latino Initiative High School Class of 2013 student profiles.