Pathway to the Baccalaureate Transition Counselor Mónica Gómez and High School Outreach and Community Liaison María Nieto-Shahsavarian represented NOVA at the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN) Hispanic College Institute (HCI) and at the first Latino Summit hosted by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
The HCI is a highly successful summer residential program that prepares Hispanic students in the Commonwealth of Virginia to enter and succeed in higher education. It is based on best practices and input from Hispanic educators and community leaders and much of the content is delivered by Hispanics who can relate to the students’ experiences and challenges. The 2015 HCI was hosted at Virginia Tech from July 15 to 18.
Gómez and Nieto-Shahsavarian participated in the Hispanic Stars Workshop which allows the students the opportunity to engage with successful Hispanic leaders and role models in a variety of fields. This session is a favorite for both the students and volunteers because it allows the students to ask questions and learn directly from these prominent leaders in their fields about their own journeys to success. The pair contributed throughout this four-day institute by chaperoning two busloads of students from the Northern Virginia area with over 100 high school sophomores and juniors, helping them understand the opportunities available to them at Virginia community colleges and learning to utilize the VA Wizard tool for career and college searches, scholarships, etc. They also represented NOVA at the College, Career and Community Resource Fair.
On August 5, they attended Governor McAuliffe’s first Latino Summit of his administration at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University. The summit welcomed more than 300 individuals from Latino communities across the Commonwealth. Gómez represented NOVA’s College Pathway Initiatives in the breakout session, “Empowering Latino Success through Higher Education and Workforce Development,” while Nieto-Shahsavarian attended sessions on “Building a Strong Foundation for Virginia’s Education System” and “A Pathway to a Healthy Virginia.”
Gómez and Nieto-Shahsavarian strongly believe in expanding access to higher education and empowering underrepresented and underprivileged young people to realize their fullest potential, to gain the tools and information they need to make college part of their future and to develop skills and attitudes necessary to be active and constructive citizens of their communities.