April 25, 2016 .- Conversations started several months ago, when Driskill Foudation in Chicago got interested in a program serving Latino youth. In partnership, Centro SOL and the Office for Student Diversity at Johns Hopkins University proposed a project to expand the Centro SOL Programa para Jóvenes, and at the same time strengthen the current activities. 
In 2016, the teams in Chicago and Baltimore strategize the best approach to include an exchange component between Chicago and Baltimore. The team representing Johns Hopkins University and Centro SOL is: Dr. Kathleen Page, MD, coDirector, Centro SOL; Mónica Guerrero Vázquez, Software Engineer, Program Coordinator, Centro SOL; Daniel Teraguchi, EdD, Director, Office for Student Diversity, Johns Hopkins University. 

The trajectory of hosting high school students is long all around Johns Hopkins University. The Office for Student Diversity organizes the JHU CARES Symposium where over 16 programs hosting high school and undergraduate students come together to showcase their projects. The symposium is a sample of the diversity in the country, and also represents the response to an increasing demand for mentoring programs for youth. 

Latino population is one of the fastest growing minorities in Maryland. Baltimore City witnesses the cultural change of having a dynamic and increasing Latino Population. An example is clear at the Children’s Medical Practice at Johns Hopkins Bayview whose Latino patients represent 75% of the overall visits. Another example is the Latino Outreach HIV group at the Baltimore City Health Department, led by Dr. Page. 

It is time to get ready to serve the Latino population in a culturally competent way. The Centro SOL Programa para Jóvenes was created in 2014 to expose bilingual high school students to careers in STEM/medicine and health. The experience with returning/year 2 students was piloted in summer 2015 when Jennifer Mendez who was part of the first cohort, a Baltimore Polytechnic Institute raising senior, was selected to be part of the “Tuberculosis Lab”, Infectious Disease Division, at the School of Medicine Johns Hopkins University. 

The first oficial cohort of returning/year 2 students  is coming in summer 2016 cosponsored by the Hirschhorn Foundation. This experience will help strengthen the program and better prepare an exchange component for the coming summers. 

“I would not be able to pay for an opportunity like this, but if I get a scholarship my family would definitely support that I go to Chicago. Sounds really great!” – Andrea Isla, Centro SOL Summer Scholar 2014

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