The grant went towards funding the mentor position and our summer training sessions, which was exactly as outlined in our grant proposal. Forty-nine scholars with full scholarships and twelve Academy scholars on partial scholarships have enrolled in the past five years of the program for a total of sixty-one students. Of all Act Six students, 92% are still enrolled or have graduated. Three students with full scholarships and two with partial scholarships have dropped out. Three dropped out due to family responsibilities, two changed their minds regarding the direction they wanted to go.
Two students have graduated with degrees in elementary education with special education endorsements. One is substitute teaching and coaching in the Wapato school district and has plans to soon begin a master’s degree in education. The other is spending two years teaching first graders in a village in Nicaragua before returning to the Yakima Valley to continue her career in education.
Fourteen students are on track to graduate within the next year with degrees in bio medicine, environmental sciences, computer science, business administration, criminal justice and nursing.
Two students have won national recognition for their research in the area of environmental sciences. One has recently had her work published in a national scientific journal. The other has been accepted into the PhD program at the University of Washington based on his undergraduate research on bio-chard in the environmental sciences department at Heritage. Three other Act Six scholars are Mellon Fellows which has put them on a fast track for enrolling in PhD programs around the nation. Many have spent the past two summers on research internships working on issues affecting the Yakima Valley ranging from dental health to nitrates in the soil, to pests affecting potato crops, and to the lamprey populations in streams on the Yakama Nation tribal lands.
Eight hold or have held elected positions in Heritage’s student government. Several were instrumental in founding Heritage’s first fraternity and first sorority, both of which focus on academic excellence and community service.
All Act Six scholars complete 20 hours of community service each semester. They continue to be involved in a wide variety of projects from establishing a community garden and food pantry to tutoring other Heritage students as well as adults returning to earn their GED. They mentor young children in the Valley’s elementary schools, welcome new students to Heritage’s campus, and volunteer in their churches and communities. Several were actively involved in the recent history-making elections for Yakima City Council. They campaigned actively for candidates and were involved in voter registration around the city. Act Six scholars are making their mark on Heritage’s campus and in their communities. Heritage professors report having high regard for Act Six scholars and depend upon them for leadership in the classroom and on campus.
We are currently in the process of selecting the sixth cadre of students from communities reaching from Naches Valley to Prosser. When this group is chosen and trained they will enter Heritage in the fall of 2016. The program is working as it was intended and we are very proud of the successes of these emerging leaders.
You can learn more about Yakima Leadership Foundation on their website.