Multilingual Ambassador Program

A group of five students sit next to each other, smiling. (Photo courtesy Naassom Azevedo /Unsplash)

Family and Student Engagement Information Session: Richmond Specialty Schools

The VCU School of Education's Multilingual Ambassador Program (MAP) is hosting a night of information sessions about specialty schools in Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday, November 17th at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. Register here to attend. The information sessions will be offered in four languages including English, French, Arabic and Spanish. The MAP aims to connect multilingual students at VCU with multilingual students in Region 1 K-12 schools. Contact with questions!

MAP Family and Student Engagement Session #1: Specialty School Applications

Specialty schools are smaller high schools with enhanced coverage of certain subjects that constitute the specialization of the school. They offer rigorous college preparation, career preparation, leadership opportunities, community service and other inspiring experiences. However, specialty schools shouldn’t be confused with vocational schools, whose goal is to deliver skills for a particular type of job. Furthermore, within specialty schools, there are also specialized special education schools that provide comprehensive special education services for students with disabilities.

The VCU Multilingual Ambassador Program (MAP) is one of only five projects selected for REAL Challenge Grant funding as part of the 2021 REAL Grants Initiative. The program aims to connect multilingual students at VCU with multilingual students in Region 1 K-12 schools in central Virginia.

The overall goals of the program are to:

  1. support the confidence building, identity development, and community building of multilingual students in Region 1 public schools; and
  2. provide high-impact leadership opportunities for multilingual Spanish-speaking students at VCU.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, the drop-out rate for English language learners (ELL) was 25% in Virginia in 2020. In comparison, the drop-out rate for non-ELL students was only 3.22%. The ambassador program will place VCU students in K-12 schools to provide in-school ELL tutoring, mentoring, and career and college readiness presentations, which will support student success as well as future generations of potential VCU students. There are five individual schools participating across four districts: Dinwiddie Public Schools, Henrico Public Schools, Petersburg Public Schools and Richmond Public Schools, representing over 500 English Learners (ELs) from elementary through high school ages.

Read an article about the VCU Multilingual Ambassador Program.

Meet the Team

Lead Contacts

Headshot of Jenna Lenhardt.Jenna Lenhardt, Recruitment Specialist, (804)
Jenna Lenhardt, Ph.D., leads the Office of Enrollment Management. She develops strategic recruitment plans for graduate programs and directs partnership engagement and outreach. Jenna grew up near Ithaca, N.Y.

Headshot of Viviana Pham.Viviana Pham, Graduate Assistant, (804)
Viviana Pham earned a VCU bachelor's degree in international social justice and French in 2019. She is currently in the and loves to sing. Viviana is originally from Charlottesville, Va.

Program Ambassadors

Headshot of Allison BarrientosAllison
Allison Barrientos is a sophomore majoring in psychology on the pre-medicine track. She grew up in Arequipa, Peru, and came to the U.S. when she was 4 years old. She plans to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist.

Emily Chiniros-MolinaEmily
Emily Chirinos-Molinais a junior majoring in fashion merchandising and minoring in media studies. She is originally from Harrisonburg, Va.

Graciela EspanaGraciela
Graciela Espana is a junior majoring in elementary education. Her hometown is Richmond, Va.

Maria FernandezMaria
Maria Fernandez is a freshman at VCU planning to double major in finance and accounting.

Marselino GergesMarselino
Marselino Gerges is a freshmen majoring in HPEX. He grew up in Chesterfiled County, Va. He plays basketball and works out in his free time.

Naomi GhahraiNaomi
Born and raised in Richmond, Naomi Ghahrai is a senior majoring in chemistry and minoring in biology and mathematics.

Abdo KamalAbdo
Abdo Kamal was born in Egypt. He is a freshman majoring in biology on a premed track. He currently resides in Chesterfield County, Va.

Marina LabibMarina
Marina Labib is a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in biology and chemistry. She grew up in Henrico County, Va.

Fabiana Landivar QuintelaFabiana Landivar
Fabiana Landivar Quintela is a freshman majoring in cinema and planning to minor in political science. Her hometown is Woodbridge, Va.

Maria Lopez-EscalanteMaria
Maria Lopez-Escalante is a freshman majoring in pre-radiation sciences. Her hometown is Arlington, Va., right next to Washington, D.C.

Daniella MedinaDaniella
Daniella Medina is a freshman on the pre-nursing track. She grew up in Centreville, Va.

Stefany MelgarStefany
Stefany Melgar is a senior majoring in bioinformatics with a concentration in biological/genomic sciences and minoring in chemistry. Her hometown is Vienna, Va.

Selena PachecoSelena
A Henrico County native, Selena Pacheco is a senior in the interdisciplinary studies program. With focuses in international social justice and sociology, and a minor in education, she plans to work toward an ELL teaching license and advocate for inclusive curriculums.


Ready To Get Started?

Jenna Lenhardt, Ph.D.