Somos Carolina’s Pilot Programs: Planting Seeds
As the landscape of students in our educational system continues to change and become more culturally diverse, there is a greater demand for improving practices, developing resources, and cultivating community when serving Latinx students and families in schools. Somos Carolina, designed to foster strong, positive racial-ethnic identity with Latinx middle school students, focuses on the intersection between Learning, Leadership, and Latinidad in the South. Our program provides the guidance, assistance, and resources necessary for students to develop and embrace their culture, community, and talents. Our Somos Carolina journey began in the summer of 2019 when we held our first Somos Carolina Summer Program for students from Sanford, Lee County, NC.
The Somos Carolina Summer Program gives students a taste of a learning environment that differs from the traditional schooling model. Students delve into conversations about identity, while critically analyzing social justice issues that impact our Latinx community and their roles as civic leaders. Ultimately, Somos Carolina aims to support and uplift our scholars up until the end of their high school graduation — fulfilling a commitment to being a long-term support system for Latinx youth navigating our education system in North Carolina.
A middle student’s journey in Somos Carolina can start with our Summer Program, however, LatinxEd has now introduced another way for students to get involved. At Orange High School and Carrboro High School, students can now join via our high school pilot program. There are no GPA requirements to join and no prior knowledge is required for membership, however, students must demonstrate an interest in learning about their Latinx identity and community at large. The first 3–5 weeks of this program introduce students to Somos Carolina’s mission and the membership process. The following semester, the chapter meetings become primarily student-led where students have the freedom to design workshops and lead community service projects based on the chapter’s pillars of Latinidad, Learning, and Leading. Orange High School currently has 20 students commencing the student-led phase of the program and Carrboro High School is in the introductory phase in partnership with a 4H organization based out of NC State called Juntos.
LatinxEd believes in protecting the potential of our youth by creating and supporting environments that fully embrace students’ identities and cultural/community wealth, and as such, have hired a dedicated and relatable leader to help guide them on their journey of self-discovery. Jazmin Rosales currently serves as the Orange County Program Coordinator for the Somos Carolina High School pilot programs at Orange High School and Carrboro High School. As a Latina, first-generation college student, and current graduate student, she enjoys providing the scholars with the guidance, encouragement, and support in hopes that it will assist them as they make decisions about their future. She appreciates the energy and enthusiasm of the Somos Carolina scholars and attributes this to making her job immensely rewarding. The scholars she serves in Orange High School are working to organize community service projects, a parent-involvement fair, and a mini college fair with parent and student panels. Jazmin is excited about the eagerness of Somos scholars to make a difference in their communities and encourages other students who would like to join Somos Carolina to contact her for more information. As a program, we are always open to new opportunities and ideas, so if there is anyone who would like to share resources for programming or curriculum ideas, feel free to contact us!