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Catawba College Plans Year Two of Free Scholars Program for Latina High School Juniors in Rowan County

October 12, 2020

Category: Academics, Students

co-latina.pngCatawba College has announced plans for Year Two of the Unanue Scholars Program. Originally scheduled for fall 2020 and delayed due to COVID-19, the program will resume in spring of 2021 by welcoming its second cohort of 16 Latina juniors from the Rowan Salisbury School System, in part due to a grant received from the Salisbury Community Foundation.

Selected students will be enrolled in a course focused on exploring their own culture, while receiving instruction in academic skills crucial for success at the college level. The priority deadline for applications is Nov. 15, 2020. The application process will remain available until Jan. 20, 2021, on a space available basis. 

“The course will be 100 percent free for students, count for college credit, and show students that college is attainable and doable,” said Dr. Forrest Anderson, Associate Provost.

“In the course, Hispanics in the U.S., students will be able to read a variety of genres, such as memoir, poetry, and essays, with the objective of not only honing skills necessary for college success, but also gaining a better understanding and awareness of the complex aspects of the Latino immigrant experience, said Dr. Sonia Alvarez-Wilson, who will teach the course.

Students will be paired with well-trained mentors chosen from Catawba’s Latina population (who make up 56 percent of the college’s Hispanic population). Through group meals and field trips designed to advance social capital, the mentors will serve as role models and offer advice on the realities of campus life.

The course will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., starting on Jan. 25, 2021, and running through May 3, 2021.

Unanue as a Catawba sophomore (1979).

The program is named to honor the memory of distinguished alumna, Mary Ann Unanue ’81, who rose through the ranks of Goya Foods, Inc. to the position of Vice President before her death in 2009 at the age of 49.

Alvarez-Wilson added, “Students will be able to see that, while their own lives are unique, they are also participating in a broader national Latino experience. It is exciting to be a part of an effort to insure that young Latina women have access to higher education and prospects for a promising future!”

“Catawba excels at serving students who have been historically underserved by higher education — low-income, minority, and first-generation students. Catawba’s commitment to providing an education rich in personal attention has led to resounding success in preparing first-generation students to thrive academically and beyond in their professional lives. We are well-positioned to prepare this particular population for academic success wherever they may attend college,” said Anderson. 

Anderson, a veteran director of student success programs, will be administrative lead. Faculty and staff directing the project include: Steffanie West, Director of CRM Management, who will coordinate with local high schools to recruit students; Dr. Alvarez-Wilson, who will teach the students in SPAN 2051: Hispanics in the U.S. and guide student mentors; and Dr. Sheila Brownlow, FYE Director, who will lead the mentor program and assess and evaluate program outcomes.

To be eligible to participate, Latina juniors must be attending a public high school within Rowan County. Visit to learn more about the program and how students can apply.

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