dent Transfer Excellence Program (
C-STEP) and longstanding programs such as
Summer Bridge and Project Uplift weren’t
designed exclusively for first-generation
students, but they do help those from families with no college experience face the
challenges they often encounter getting to
Carolina and after they reach campus.
But just making the decision to apply to
college requires courage, imagination and
good guidance. That’s where the four-year-old Scholars’ Latino Initiative and the Carolina College Advising Corps, which is new
this year, come in. Both encourage high
schoolers to go on to college — to any
appropriate college, not necessarily Carolina.
First-generation students come from a
range of ethnic groups and income levels,
but the recent growth in North Carolina’s
immigrant population has meant that a
larger proportion of the state’s schoolchildren have a first language other than English.
Bonilla was born and raised in the U.S., but
because her family lived in East Los Angeles
during her early school years, she spoke
only Spanish until she was 10, when her
family moved to Siler City. Teachers there
and her own talent and initiative helped
make her a strong candidate for college. But
she might not be on her way there if it
weren’t for the Scholars’ Latino Initiative.
Jakelin Bonilla, left, was nominated for a Morehead-Cain Scholarship, but she needs guidance
from outside her family. Meghan Bridges ’07 is with the Carolina College Advising Corps, which
goes into the state’s high schools to help students such as Bonilla prepare.
Established by religious studies Professor
Peter Kaufman, the initiative partners Carolina sophomores with promising Jordan-Matthews sophomores for three years of
one-to-one mentoring and enrichment.
Bonilla is part of the second class of SLI students — of the first seven students, five are
now finishing their first year in college, some
of them at Carolina. SLI currently works
only with students at Jordan-Matthews, but