In June 2007, Seal Press published Rosie Molinary's book "Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina." At the time, the author also was having lunch regularly with a group of Latina students at Bailey Middle School.
At one lunch, the girls talked about wanting to go to college. Having recently researched and been immersed in writing her book, Molinary knew that "only 41percent of Latinas graduate high school, and only 10percent finish college. ...
"Looking at their bright and shining faces, I felt an incredible sense of responsibility.... A group was born to figure out a way to support and mentor young Latinas."
To make sure Latina students perceived themselves as college-bound, the group decided to start working with them at an early age.
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So Circle de Luz ("Circle of Light") began in 2008. It supports and inspires young Latinas. Each year, it inducts a new class of seventh-grade girls.
From then until the girls graduate high school, Circle de Luz supports them with mentoring and regular, comprehensive programs to help them graduate and pursue higher education. When they graduate from high school and enroll in the educational opportunity of their choice, Circle de Luz awards each a scholarship of at least $5,000.
Mentors see girls two or three times a month: once in school for an academic opportunity, and again to "experience exposure to the world," such as going to a musical theater performance or eating sushi for the first time.
On May 1, the Cornelius Arts Center and Community Arts Project hosted an exhibition and reception for the girls, culminating a six-week Circle de Luz workshop. "We had around 50 or 60 folks attend," said Kim Beard, interim executive director of the Community Arts Project. "The young girls could not have prouder of their artwork, and the families seemed thrilled."
Through August, Molinary is looking for m'ijas ("friends") to follow the next class through high school graduation. Each m'ija donates $90 for a year for six years. Each also takes their mentee to events, or they can be just a financial donor. To volunteer or for details on Circle de Luz, email Rosie Molinary at email@example.com.
Aspiring Artists exhibit
The PARC Department and the Community Arts Project invite you to view artwork in various mediums by aspiring artists at the Cornelius Arts Center Monday through June 30.
From 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, you can meet the talented student artists and their instructors at the opening reception. And you can learn about techniques and future classes and workshops.
The arts center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon Fridays.
Aquesta Bank will host an American Red Cross community blood drive from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 27 at the bank headquarters in Cornelius. To schedule an appointment, contact Lauren Furcht at 704-439-4335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 11 a.m. May 29 at Legion Park, American Legion Post 86 and the Cornelius PARC Department will honor veterans and those serving in our armed forces. Post Commander John Washam will lead the ceremony, which will include a keynote speaker, a 21-gun salute and patriotic songs from the Mount Zion choir.