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Catawba’s Unanue Scholars Program Will Target Latina Juniors in Rowan-Salisbury Public Schools

February 6, 2019

Category: Academics, Students


Catawba College is pleased to announce the founding of the Unanue Scholars Program. 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.

Beginning in the fall of 2019, Catawba will welcome a cohort of 16 Latina juniors from the local Rowan County Public School System in part due to a grant received from the Salisbury Community Foundation. 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.  


Unanue as a Catawba College senior (1981).

To be eligible to participate, Latina juniors must be attending a public high school within Rowan County, N.C. Visit to learn more about the program and how students can apply. The deadline to apply is March 15, 2019. 

“In the course, Hispanics in the U.S.,” says Catawba Professor Dr. Sonia Alvarez-Wilson, “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.” 

Students will be paired with well-trained mentors chosen from Catawba’s Latina population (who make up 56% 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. This course will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. starting on August 21, 2019 and running through December 4, 2019. 

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

Alvarez-Wilson adds, “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!” 

Unanue as a Catawba sophomore (1979).

Catawba excels at serving students who have been historically-underserved by higher education, including 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. Therefore, Catawba administrators believe the institution is well-positioned to prepare this particular population for academic success wherever they may attend college. 

While Anderson, a veteran director of student success programs, will serve as the administrative lead of the Unanue Scholars Program, the program’s positive outcomes will stem from the Catawba faculty and staff directing the project. Steffanie West, Admissions Director, will coordinate with local high schools to recruit students. Dr. Sonia Alvarez-Wilson will teach the students in SPAN 2051: Hispanics in the U.S. and guide student mentors. Dr. Michael Bitzer, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center, will provide the students direction in academic skills. Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery, Honors Director and an expert in first-generation student success, will provide guidance on enhancing the students’ social capital. Dr. Sheila Brownlow, First Year Experience (FYE) Director, will assess and evaluate program outcomes.

(Información en español)

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