“The LIFE mentors provided me with the opportunity to view people like me in positions of being role models that I didn’t think were imaginable and doing things that I didn’t think I would be able to do. And so it really taught me the importance of representation. And it’s just honestly been a life-changing experience that I think is incredibly valuable. And it’s essential to the Northwest Arkansas Community.”

Reimagine Arkansas Conversations w/ LIFE Legacy Mentors






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How to Listen:

Move your cursor or finger over the underlined, highlighted words and click to hear that particular piece of audio and to read the broader context of the speaker’s quote.

Grateful for the sacrifices his parents made coming to this country, Jose set himself on a path ☊ to earn the chance to attend college. It wasn’t until his senior year in high school that he learned the shocking truth ☊ that he was ineligible to receive the necessary financial aid due to his undocumented status. Like others we interviewed for this kit, Jose credits the support and resources he received through NWACC’s LIFE program with “saving his higher education.” ☊
LIFE was established in 2012 as a mentorship program to connect and support area high school students who may or may not be considering college after graduation. From the Original Eight ☊ to an alumni network of nearly 80 mentors today, the program has sought to answer commonly asked questions ☊ from students who feel lost ☊ in the college process and need purpose and direction ☊. LIFE centers NWACC students as leaders that can represent ☊ the identities and experiences of underrepresented students and walk them through everything ☊, showing them that the future is theirs. ☊


More than a program, LIFE is described as an ethos where students, many of whom are used to living with fear ☊, taboo ☊ and even guilt ☊ surrounding their citizenship status, are welcomed, loved and respected ☊. A spirit of allyship ☊ and advocacy ☊ runs through this group of nurses, chiropractors, case managers, realtors and emerging legislators who hope to remain life-long mentors influencing the next generation to keep pushing ☊ and break down barriers. ☊

The phrase “Sentenced to LIFE” ☊ evokes deep commitments to a community that feels like family ☊ and to a future where underrepresented students can catch up ☊ and have a fair shot ☊ at higher education and not have to work two or three jobs ☊ just to get by. Small, bridging ☊ steps, such as building relationships ☊ and making sure all students are counted ☊ to help move Hispanic enrollment at NWACC from 23% to 25% ☊, will lead to a domino effect ☊, including additional funding opportunities and resources ☊ for Arkansas students.
There’s a beauty ☊ in these conversations and a broader invitation for listeners to imagine the impossible ☊, be the creators of their own stories ☊ and see others as having more in common ☊ with you than you think.

Reimagine Arkansas

Because the future belongs to all of us.