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Central Valley Scholars Announces Fourth Themtorship Program Cohort


2023-2024 Themtorship Cohort

We are excited to announce our upcoming 2023-2024 Themtorship Program cohort! Continuing for the fourth year, the Themtorship Program assists first-generation, undocumented, and Black students in the San Joaquin Valley with their undergraduate college application process.


Selecting this year's Themtees was an extremely difficult process. We experienced an over 100% application increase from 2022 and were only able to admit 13% of the students who applied (a percentage we will increase as we grow in organizational capacity).


However, centering identity, need, and potential growth, we conducted a holistic review of the systemic, cultural, and inter-personal obstacles each applicant faces on their journeys towards higher education — intentionally admitting students who would receive the most impact from completing the program.


2023-2024 Themtorship Program County Origins

This year, our cohort of 10 students reside in seven different communities across the Central Valley (see Figure 1.0). Not only are they incredibly powerful, intelligent, and have limitless potential, this community of diverse Central Valley students also come together with the common interest of using education as a tool to support themselves, their families, and the Central Valley at large.


About The Program


The Themtorship Program was created by and for first-generation, undocumented, and Black students in the San Joaquin Valley to be supported and celebrated during their undergraduate application process. The program was founded with the understanding that students in the Central Valley, especially those with oppressed identities, have little to no resources when applying to college and often encounter racist, misogynistic, and homo/transphobic administrators and spaces in which they cannot be their authentic selves.


Addressing this, the Themtorship Program not only provides the tools, information, and support students need to submit successful applications to undergraduate universities, but also the space for them to dream of the university they deserve. Through the use of virtual trainings, in-person community gatherings, identity-alike leadership, continuous check-ins, and constant resource sharing, the program actively works to dismantle issues of poverty, racism, xenophobia, homo/transphobia, and other oppressions that block Central Valley students from higher education opportunities.


All students in the program receive:

  • $500 Scholarship

  • A Free Laptop To *Keep*

  • A Free Wifi Hotspot Rental

  • A personal Themtor that provides one-on-one support on the entire college application process

  • 4 college application fee waivers sponsored by Central Valley Scholars

  • 6 hours of free therapy in collaboration with the Onyx Trauma Healing Center

  • Participation in a cohort-based support group and peer learning community over the course of 10 months

This program follows a hybrid model of mostly virtual and some in-person gatherings between August 2023 and May 2024.


Program Goals


Based on learned experiences from our previous three cohorts, we have summarized our goals into three major components; access, empowerment, and critical consciousness (see Figure 2.0).


Themtorship Program goals

(Figure 2.0) Themtorship Program Goals



The uniqueness of the Themtorship Program stems from our focus on critical consciousness, in which we provide realistic understandings of higher education institutions in the United States.


Oftentimes college is sold, especially to students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, as a golden ticket that will get themselves and their families out of poverty. However, as first-generation, low-income, and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPoC) students ourselves, we understand that there are very unique and unnecessary challenges students will face while navigating predominantly white and high-income serving institutions.


Success for our program is not measured in the prestige of the universities our students attend, nor is it measured in the quantity of universities they were admitted into. Instead, success lies in student growth in consciousness; in which they feel entitled to take space in institutions that were built against them, in which they feel confident and empowered to achieve their dreams, and in which they feel prepared to navigate these institutions and overcome challenges during their college trajectories.


Our goal is to provide the proper tools, resources, and information so our students can make conscious and educated decisions regarding their academic futures. We are here to help our students identify their goals and needs, cheer along the way, and give them the autonomy to decide which academic pathway (if at all) is best suited for their lives.


Through reflection of our own personal experiences, partnerships with identity-alike Themtors, and continuously centering our students' feedback in our curriculum, we are confident that every student in our program will leave with these three goals in hand.


2023 - 2024 Themtorship Program Cohort


Join us in celebrating our 10-student Themtorship Program cohort, all carrying identities of first-generation, undocumented, and/or Black.


In efforts of centering student voices, we asked each student for quotes on the the following questions, "What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?" and "How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?". Their quoted responses are below.


Tatiana Aguirre | 2023-2024 Themtee
Tatiana Aguirre (She/Her)

Tatiana is from the Porterville, CA area and is a senior at Porterville High School. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"Joining the Themtorship Program means to me getting help and resources that I don't have. I feel like it would help me to fill in gaps I have about college and this would also be a great opportunity to be part of a community I have never been in before. "


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"I believe the Themtorship Program will support both my personal and college journey by talking to people that have been through the college process and could help share how to do it all and how to get through the hard times."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"Thank you to Central Valley Scholars for this great opportunity. Very grateful to be a part of this and happy to see where this leads."


Donna Pierre | 2023-2024 Themtee
Donna Pierre (She/Her)

Donna is from the Stockton, CA area and is a senior at Merrill F West High School with interests in entering a STEM field. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"It means being a part of a community of like-minded scholars who are also just as scared. But with that in mind, it makes me feel less scared because I know I will have a community of people with me on my college application journey."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"Being an upcoming senior still feels very surreal and this whole growing up and college application process is very hard and stressful. It saddens me because I feel like growing up is so scary and this experience will help me know that growing up is okay and make the college experience less stressful."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"The Themtorship Program and programs like this inspire me to lead services like this when I become an adult."


Arley Melendez | 2023-2024 Themtee
Arley Melendez (She/Her)

Arley is from the Mendota, CA area and is a senior at Mendota High School. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"To me, joining the Themtorship Program is like going into a new library. As I open the doors, I see guides, resources, and fellow peers who are striving for the same goal: to go to college. In a way, the program is like one of Santa's elves that roam the library and direct me to what I need to do. In addition, I'm sure I'll make close friends with my peers and treasure new memories with them."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"By providing a scholarship and one-on-one meetings, the program will not only help me financially but also keep me motivated mentally. During the end of a semester, I often see my mental health start to decline which in turn affects my grades, but I think having someone talk to me throughout my year (especially a therapist) will greatly reduce that effect. As I previously mentioned, the program has many resources to get me prepared for the reality of college which is something I'm thankful for because many times when I try to research about college, I often feel overwhelmed or not knowing where to start."


Kimari Burton | 2023-2024 Themtee
Kimari Burton (She/Her)

Kimari is from the Fresno, CA area and is a senior at Edison High School with interests of becoming a nurse. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"To me, being in the Themtorship Program means having someone guide me through my personal, professional, and college development. Having a friend who can help me navigate through tough situations and give you advice on how to reach your goals, while also meeting new individuals that I can relate to."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"I believe the Themtorship Program will support both my personal and college journey by providing me with a support system. Having someone who can offer guidance and advice can help me navigate through challenging situations and make informed decisions. Additionally, a Themtor can help me identify my strengths and weaknesses, which can help me develop the skills I need to succeed in college and beyond."


Carlos Soriano | 2023-2024 Themtee
Carlos Heriberto Nuñez Soriano (He/Him)

Carlos is from the Mendota, CA area and is a senior at Mendota High School. His quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"Well, I'm so excited about in this program. This program is a big opportunity to help me understand the things I don't know and I'm confident it will help me in my college future."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"I don't know anything when it comes to how to apply to college, and don't have anyone at home to ask questions to. I have trust that this program will help me in all the ways I need."


Daniela Castillejo | 2023-2024 Themtee
Daniela Castillejo (She/Her/Ella)

Daniela is from the Bakersfield, CA area and is a senior at Golden Valley High School with interests in a social sciences major. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"To me, joining this program means to be apart of a community, a safe space for all people. To me it means to grown and learn, and have the desire to reach one's fullest potential."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"I believe the Themtorship program will allow me to explore new opportunities for my future self. I also believe the program will allow me to connect with some new people who will help me learn a little more about myself."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I am excited to see what the Themtorship Program holds for me!"


Anahi Gutierrez | 2023-2024 Themtee
Anahi Gutierrez (She/Her)

Anahi is from the Fresno, CA area and is a senior at Caruthers High School with interests in becoming a nurse and studying culinary arts. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"Joining the Themtorship Program helped me realize that my goal of going to college is a possibility all thanks to the support and help this program will provide me."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"Themtorship program will support both my personal and college journey by providing me with useful tips and information such as scholarships, about colleges, different majors, help with applications, ect... This program will help steer me into a clear path for college."


Esteban Moreno Aguirre | 2023-2024 Themtee
Esteban Moreno Aguirre (He/Him)

Esteban is from the Fresno, CA area and is a senior at Roosevelt High School with interests in studying architecture. His quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"Joining the Themtorship program means a lot for me because I like to be part of communities that do something to help others. Also, the counseling in my school is not the best."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"The Themtorship Program would support me in a lot of ways, but the most important is to guide me throughout the process to join a university. It would also help me because I come from a low-income family and the scholarship would help me in a lot of ways."


Paola Rocha | 2023-2024 Themtee
Paola Rocha (She/Her)

Paola is from the Fresno, CA area and is a senior at Roosevelt High School with interests in studying chemistry. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"Joining the Themtorship Program to me means that I won't be alone in this journey to college. As a first-generation student my family can't guide me through this process, and while my teachers and counselors at Roosevelt may try to help they can't fully answer my questions."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"I believe the Themtorship Program will help me to meet new people and expand my social circle to other communities."


Violeta Valadez | 2023-2024 Themtee
Violeta Valadez (She/Her)

Violeta is from the Mendota, CA area and is a senior at Mendota High School with interests in studying business administration. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does joining the Themtorship Program mean to you?


"Joining this program gives me the ability to meet new people who are different. It also gives me the guidance that I need to continue to follow my goals in life. It helps me to become a better person with a bigger mind. This program means that I will be able to be myself and not have a fear of expressing who I am."


How do you believe the Themtorship Program will support both your personal and college journey?


"I think that joining this program will help me become a better person. This program will help me to become the person that my family needs. I am very excited to be a part of this journey and for it to help my well-being. This will help my college journey because it will teach me how to do things on my own and also know how to ask for help when it is needed."


Reflecting On Language - Why Themtor & Not "Mentor"


Reflecting on the power of language, we made the intentional transition to use themtor in replacement of 'mentor' to show inclusion of trans, non-binary, genderqueer, and all other marginalized genders. Our organization particularly uses this spelling to separate ourselves from exclusionary 'mentorship' programs. This change demonstrates our ongoing commitment to serving non-male, marginalized genders.


Stay Connected


Check out the following links related to the Themtorship Program:

  • To learn more about the Themtorship Program, click here.

  • To learn more about our 2022-2023 Themtorship cohort and program impacts, click here.

  • If you would like to support our organization in continuing programs like this one, click here.

  • For questions about this article or the Themtorship Program more generally, please contact us.

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