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Free College Credit Class for Rowan County Latina High School Juniors Begins in January at Catawba College

November 13, 2020

Category: Academics, Students

co-latina.pngCatawba College is registering Rowan County high school Latina juniors for Year Two of its free Unanue Scholars Program. Originally scheduled for fall 2020 and delayed due to COVID-19, the program will resume in the spring semester 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. 

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 meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4:30-5:45 p.m., starting on Jan. 25, 2021, and running through May 3, 2021. 

Selected students will be enrolled in an interdisciplinary course that explores the innovative ways by which Latina and Latino youth are engaging with the sustainability movement across the U.S. and Latin America. Students will focus on exploring their own culture, while receiving instruction in academic skills crucial for success at the college level. 

“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. 

Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid will teach the course, entitled “Latinx Leadership: Youth, Indigeneity, and Sustainability.” She is an Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Advocacy, Department of Environment and Sustainability. 

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 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. 

The course will highlight the significant contributions of the Hispanic community to current understandings of economic, ecological, and social justice initiatives, with a critical lens toward historic and present-day coloniality. Recognition of the role of cultural heritage and cultural identity, as they inform individual empowerment and opportunities for solidarity, will be of central importance to the discussion-based format of the class. 

“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. Quesada-Embid, who will teach the class 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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