Corban’s Act Six program provides full scholarships and leadership training for emerging urban and community leaders from the Salem/Portland area who want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home.
Corban University Welcomes 11 New Act Six Scholars
Corban University welcomes eleven new Act Six Scholars, all first-generation college students, to the incoming class of 2024. These urban and community leaders from Salem and Portland will receive four-year, full-tuition and full-need scholarships as members of the latest Act Six cohort.
Selected through a rigorous three-month competition, these diverse student leaders were chosen for their commitment to serve their campus and communities, their passion for learning, eagerness to foster intercultural relationships, and willingness to step out of their comfort zones.
Corban University (Cadre 1)
Following are the Act Six recipients who will enroll at Corban this fall:
- Ti Hana Alik, McKay High School, BS CO Psychology
- LJ Allise, McKay High School, BA Ministry
- Isabel Cota, McKay High School, BS Biology
- Carlos Cruz, McNary High School, BS Political Science
- Emely Medina, McNary High School, BS Forensic Psychology
- Lidia Valdez Rodriguez, McNary High School, BS Education
- Rainea Walbridge, North Salem High School, BS CO Psychology
- Gabriela Azcorra-Uicab, Jefferson High School, BS English
- Elamny Hernandez-Guarema, Forest Grove High School, BA Political Science
- Valeria Michel-Garcia, Jefferson High School, BS Business Administration
- Esmeralda Perez-Interian, Madison High School, Undeclared
Act Six Leadership Team
Junior - Business
Junior - Music Arts
Sophomore - Music Performance
Junior - Music Education
Junior - Music Performance
Junior - Media Arts
Timm and Lori Taff
Founders and Owners of Conversatio Coffee
Executive Assistant to the VP for Advancement and Strategic Initiatives
Shannon (Madsen) Johnson
VP for Advancement
Senior Development Officer
About Act Six
Act Six is a scholarship program that provides full tuition and room/board at Corban University for up to eleven incoming undergraduate students each year. It aims to provide extensive leadership development and mentorship opportunities for this select group of students to engage and invest fully in Corban University and greater communities.
The Act Six initiative believes that emerging leaders, with the right opportunity, support, and inspiration, can combine their natural gifts and passions with a college education to create a new kind of bold, visionary leadership that will transform our campuses, our cities, and our collective future. Act Six identifies and rewards scholars who are passionate about learning, eager to foster intercultural relationships, willing to step out of their comfort zones, committed to serving those around them, and want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home.
ACT SIX PROGRAM
Act Six seeks to develop urban leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and their home communities. Since 2002, Act Six has trained 1,092 scholars from 7 cities in 161 cadres for 18 private, liberal arts colleges. While 91% are from low-income families or are first-generation college-goers, 82% graduate within six years, —20 points higher than all students at their colleges.
Act Six develops leaders through a simple but powerful, four-step strategy:
- Recruit and select diverse, multicultural cadres of the most promising urban and community student leaders.
- Train and prepare these groups of students in the year before college, equipping them to support each other, succeed academically and grow as service-minded leaders and agents of transformation.
- Send and fund the cadres together to select colleges across Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana on full-tuition, full-need scholarships.
- Support and inspire by providing strong campus support, ongoing leadership development, and vocational connections to inspire scholars to serve their home communities.
Act Six alumni continue their leadership once they step foot into their communities. Eighty-two percent of Act Six scholars earn their bachelor’s degrees within six years, more than double the rate for low-income, first-generation students nationwide. More than two-thirds of the program’s graduates are working or serving in their home communities.
The scholars begin an intensive six-month training program that involves weekly meetings with Act Six staff, retreats, and campus visits.
Learn more about Act Six online.
Click on their name to view content.
Isabel Cota, McNary High School (Video)
Elamny Hernandez, McNary High School (Story)
A Voice for the Voiceless: Act Six Scholar Elamny Hernandez Shares Her Dream of Becoming a Lawyer
“I’ve always looked at myself as a leader,” says Elamny Hernandez, who graduated from Forest Grove High School this past May. For Elamny, leadership isn’t about being bossy or controlling—quite the opposite. “It’s about helping others who don’t have a voice—or may have a voice but don’t know it yet.”
Elamny has experienced the power of a leader and mentor coming alongside to help her discover her voice and tap into unknown potential.
One of the biggest mentors in Elamny’s life has been her chemistry teacher, Ms. Van Roekel. “She helped me immensely with chemistry because I was struggling. The first semester, I ended up with a C. The second semester, I stayed after school to get advice from her.” She finished with an A.
But Ms. Van Roekel’s advice and support ventured beyond ionic and covalent bonds. She took the time to invest in Elamny as a person, even mentoring her through the Aspire program, which helps equip high school students for college.
“I see you in a small school setting,” Ms. Van Roekel said. She mentioned the Act Six program, a competitive scholarship that would provide full tuition to participating faith-based schools—one of which was Corban University.
“I looked more into Corban, and I found that their political science major was really good,” Elamny says. She was also captivated by the study abroad opportunities and the fact that Corban was a Christian school. “I’m so used to public schools,” she says, where faith and academics are kept separate. The idea of integrating her faith with her major was shocking—and appealing.
“I’m excited for Bible classes and chapel,” she says, “excited to open that side of my mind and think, ‘What would Jesus do in situations I might face?’”
This is an excellent question, especially since Elamny is pursuing her political science degree so she can eventually go to law school. “I just really want to help other people’s cases,” she says. “I’m thinking about doing immigration law or civil rights law.”
Elamny has had first-hand experience with immigration law, as she watched several family members go through the process of becoming American citizens, including her mother, who is from Venezuela and earned her U.S. citizenship last December. Elamny even remembers quizzing her mother before her exam: “Who was the first president of the United States?” “How many amendments does the Constitution have?” “Who makes federal laws?”
The idea of helping others face the challenges her family faced—empowering them and helping them feel heard and understood—is exciting. But Elamny has a long road ahead before she’ll be able to become a lawyer.
Thankfully, she already has one sibling who has paved the way and graduated from college. Elamny’s older sister, Valeska, graduated from Portland State University, and has been her number one resource when it comes to preparing for college life. Elamny has already had several conversations with her sister about what it’s like doing college-level homework, going to class, and managing her time. “It is really neat to have a sister like her,” she says warmly.
With the support and encouragement of her family and her mentor, Elamny applied for the Act Six scholarship, hoping it would allow her to study at Corban.
Once she had submitted her application and completed her interview, Elamny could do nothing but wait. “My parents and people around me would always ask, ‘When do you find out?’ It would just make me more nervous because I didn’t know whether I got it or not!”
On the day she found out that she was one of 11 students accepted to Corban on the Act Six scholarship, Elamny happened to be meeting with her mentor, Ms. Van Roekel, who rejoiced with her.
Ms. Van Roekel, her older sister Valeska, and many other people have encouraged and supported Elamny throughout her education journey. Now, she’s ready to develop her own leadership skills so she can be that same encourager and supporter for others.
When asked what she’s most excited about as she prepares to attend Corban in the fall, Elamny says, “I’m excited to make new friends and grow in my faith. I’m excited about the opportunities I’ve been given, and I can’t wait to grow as a leader with the other members of my Act Six cadre.”
To future high school seniors considering applying for the Act Six scholarship, Elamny says, “Even if you may not view yourself as a leader, just try it! You never know what you may experience or see in yourself.”
Learn more about the Act Six program at https://www.actsix.org/.
Emely Medina, McNary High School (Video)
Emely Medina, McNary High School (Story)
Emely Shares how the Act Six Scholarship Paved the Way to Corban
Emely Medina is one of 11 students in Corban’s first-ever cohort of Act Six scholars. Act Six is a scholarship program that seeks to develop leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and in their home communities. After a rigorous application and interview process, 11 students were selected to receive full-tuition, full-need scholarships to Corban University. Each of these students has demonstrated a high level of commitment, achievement, and leadership, and all come from high schools in Salem and surrounding areas.
Out of all the applicants for the Act Six scholarship, something about Emely Medina from McNary High School stood out.
Maybe it was her passion to see more trust and collaboration between the Salem-Keizer community and its law enforcement officers.
Maybe it was her dream of earning a forensic psychology degree, so she could better understand the motives and psychological factors behind crime.
Or maybe it was the awe and respect she held for her parents, who had persevered for years to earn their U.S. citizenship after immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico and El Salvador.
But regardless of which aspects of her scholarship application stood out, Emely will be carrying each of those qualities into her Corban education: passion for helping her community, curiosity in her field of study, and determination to succeed.
Emely knew she was interested in Corban as soon as she discovered that they offered a degree in forensic psychology—something she hadn’t found elsewhere. “I knew that I wanted a more specialized degree in psychology,” she says.
She admits that her interest in forensic psychology began by binge-watching Criminal Minds. But her interest in the field has deepened, and she’s excited to take her knowledge into a criminal justice career, possibly even in law enforcement.
Even in her free time, Emely enjoys reading books related to psychology and crime, and recently borrowed a book from one of her teachers called “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signs that Protect us from Violence.” “It explains how your fear can be used to your advantage—it can give you signs or warnings of danger,” she explains.
Although Emely was excited to come to Corban, she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay for school.
When she found the Act Six scholarship, which would provide a full-tuition scholarship to Corban, she decided to give it everything she had. “I don’t think I’ve ever put so much of myself into a piece of writing,” Emely says. “It was insane.”
Emely was asked to answer four essay questions, each in 500 words or less. She counted each word to make sure she was within the limit.
For one question, she was asked, “Describe any personal hardships, unusual circumstances you have had to overcome, or other aspects of your life story. . . . How have these experiences shaped you as a person and how can they help you in the future?” In response, Emely chose to describe the challenges she had watched her parents endure as they worked toward their U.S. citizenship. In one paragraph, she wrote:
For weeks before their day in court, my parents prepared for the worst, making a plan for what they would do if they were deported back to their countries, and how they would try to get my siblings and I over to my aunts in California. Their court date finally came on October 6, 2010. By then I was old enough to understand what was happening and knew that whatever decision was made in court that day would determine whether or not our family would be divided by three countries. I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life. After five hours of deliberation and years of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and determination, my parents were finally permanent residents, and this winter will mark three years since they became naturalized citizens of the United States.”
“I was in awe watching them,” Emely says. “Now looking back, it was amazing what they did. I admire their resilience and how they’re so relentless with what they want to achieve in life. Those are two things that I’ve tried to mirror all my life growing up. I don’t ever want to give up, I don’t ever want to surrender to anything.”
After submitting her application, Emely could do nothing but wait and pray. “I’d never wanted something so much that I went home and broke down into tears praying for it,” she says.
For the next phase of the application process, Emely attended a group interview in Portland where she and her fellow applicants were asked to discuss various issues in society. “Two judges sat there with a clipboard,” she remembers, observing how each candidate problem-solved and interacted with one another.
“I was nervous,” Emely says. “Honestly, I felt bad because I was kind of sizing people up and wondering, ‘Am I going to be able to compete with you?’”
After a final round of interviews and a tour of Corban’s campus, the final waiting period began.
When the email arrived announcing that Emely had been selected to receive the Act Six scholarship, she screamed so loudly that her mom thought something terrible had happened. Emely managed to explain, but was so happy she could hardly speak. “We were just laughing, crying, hugging.”
When asked how it feels to be an Act Six scholar, Emely says, “I’m so thankful for every person who has shaped and molded me into the person I am right now.” In addition to her parents, Emely is particularly grateful for four of her teachers from the Career and Technical Education Center in Salem. “My teachers challenged me to push myself like no other teacher has ever done. Without them I would not be here,” she says warmly.
“A few years ago, I would never have taken the chance for fear of getting my hopes up and not getting the scholarship,” says Emely. “It’s a huge blessing to be given this opportunity to continue my education. A blessing to earn it, because this proved to myself that I’m much more capable than I thought I was.”
Emely also sees God’s hand at work in her life—from learning about Corban’s forensic psychology program to being admitted to the Act Six program. She says, “It was in His plan for me to find this school.”
Rainea Walbridge, North Salem High School (Video)
Act Six November 10, 2020 UPDATE
Aside from the challenges of a global pandemic, the students of Corban University’s first Act Six cadre have nestled into their new community well. Our scholars come from a vast array of backgrounds and are, in turn, influencing those around them in their own ways. One of our scholars has led worship for Chapel at least two times and is passionately pursuing that student leadership role next semester. Another scholar has recognized the need for more discussion about political issues and has been inspired to start a new club that focuses on wrestling respectfully with current political environments and different points of views. We also have another scholar currently working in the dining area and making connections with student government to become a member of a new student club.
Education for these scholars is the number one priority, but Corban’s Act Six program also focuses highly on providing these students with community and a place that they can call home. In order to strengthen engagement, the new Assistant Director of Act Six, Michaela Herring, meets with 1-on-1 each month with scholars, engages them in small group meetings very 2-3 weeks to discuss individual and community growth, and plans their monthly gatherings as a united cadre. In an interview with a scholar, she stated “It (Act Six) is a blessing in disguise because all of my Act Six peers contribute to our community like a puzzle: we are all shaped differently but we all come together as one.” The scholars work together to finish homework and other projects, but are focused on deepening relationships and understanding of one another. There are 7 Salem/Keizer students and 4 scholars from the Portland-metro area. Despite the distance, it is evident around the university the powerful relationships these students have.
Our scholars are also bringing diverse experience and background to Corban University. It has been wonderful to hear that this scholarship has “been an answered prayer that I have been asking the Lord for ever since I got out of high school,” said one scholar. Even after wildfires and the restraints imposed by COVID-19, all the scholars continue to succeed academically. There are even a few scholars who have expressed interest in challenging themselves further by applying for a 3-week intensive course in December.
Next semester, Michaela Herring and Nathan Geer will be holding leadership workshops with the Act Six scholars in preparation for the new cadre. It is their intention to keep the scholars a close-knit group, while empowering them to increase their impact around the Corban campus. The first Act Six cadre has been a huge blessing to Corban University and we ask for the following prayers as we step into Phase II of the selection process for Cadre 2:
- A new diverse set of willing leaders
- Wisdom in seeing students where they are and their potential beyond
- Training our current scholars how to be leaders in a time of unknown
Act Six April 5, 2021 UPDATE
Overview: Over the course of the past few months, the scholars have, yet again, been faced with more challenges. More than half of the cadre acquired the COVID virus and were confronted with balancing their physical health and the requirements of school, family, and peers. In addition, some also began student leadership roles. Despite the load, the scholars were able to persevere by continuously strengthening their relationships with one another and their Corban support system.
Four scholars successfully acquired student leadership roles in different areas. One will be a Worship Leader for Chapel, another will be in Student Government as the VP of Student Relations, another is serving in Residence Life as a Multicultural Resident Assistant (MRA), and the last will be serving in the Reach (Volunteer Service) program. Other scholars are planning to remain in their roles as senators or pursue other jobs on-campus. Two scholars were able to attend the mission trip to the Dream Center in Los Angeles over Spring Break where they volunteered in the L.A. community to prepare food for the homeless, pick up trash and build new spaces so that homeless family could have a place to go. It has been inspiring to watch the scholars become more passionate about their areas of involvement at Corban.
Michaela and Nathan have continued their leadership workshop every Tuesday with the scholars to cover important areas that encourage and provide support for the scholars as they chase new endeavors in preparation for next year. Simultaneously, Michaela has focused on deepening relational equity with each individual scholar by consistently meeting with them on a monthly basis. Over the past few months, the scholars have shown significant initiative and maturity in these training and relationship-building sessions.
As prayers have poured into deciphering the scholars for next year, 10 scholars confirmed to be a part of the second cadre out of 34 total applicants. The Phase III event was held virtually over a two-day span where applicants were able to sit in on classes, meet Corban’s leadership team, engage the current scholars and engage an interview with members of our Act Six Steering Committee. Looking ahead, there will be an in-person event on April 9th for the current cadre and the new cadre to meet and further build community in the Act Six program. We are seeking your prayers for support in the following ways:
1. Strength and perseverance to overcome COVID fatigue.
2. Motivation for our scholars to finish the semester strong.
3. Wisdom for Nathan and Michaela in developing the program for another cadre.
4. Creativity and flexibility in planning events and workshops for the scholars.