Yesika Sorto Andino is a third year Levine Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has worked tirelessly with children and adults who have arrived in Charlotte as immigrants and refugees. Her volunteer and research activities have centered on educational programming for adults and curriculum delivery and assessment for children. In addition to working through established agencies to provide translation, tutoring, and college application assistance, she has helped bring high school students to our campus and created new student organizations for Latinx 49ers. Her current research activities focus on identifying healthy, local food options in minority neighborhoods and assessing educational models for supporting refugee and immigrant children.
I arrived at my elementary school an English Language Learner (ELL). It was this identity marker that drove my desire to help immigrant and refugee communities, but more specifically, to provide educational support for other ELL students throughout Charlotte, NC. I've volunteered with organizations providing educational, health, legal and financial resources to immigrant and refugee populations, such as the International House and Latin American Coalition. My time at ourBRIDGE For Kids, an after-school program providing educational and socio-emotional support for refugee and immigrant students, has increased my desire to work with ELL's in the future. Currently, alongside a professor, I'm evaluating the impact ourBRIDGE has had on the students and the greater community by analyzing teaching strategies and curriculum development through ethnographic research. I'm also developing an educational enrichment program for minority students in the community to provide them with an exposure to higher education. I've also examined the intersection between educational, racial, and health equity by researching access to healthy food options throughout predominantly minority neighborhoods, where a large portion of refugee and immigrant populations live. In the future, I hope to work in the educational policy field and address the needs of ELL students on a broader scope.