When Jahir Nunez-Martinez was in high school in Rogers, Minn., he knew that he wanted a change when it came to college. With 1,585 students, Rogers High School could feel too big — he craved a smaller, more tight-knit campus. Having a speech coach who was a Bethany Lutheran alum put the college on his radar.
“My main reason for going to Bethany was the size of it, how teachers care for you,” Nunez-Martinez said. “After learning more about Bethany Lutheran College, I learned more about the major I wanted to do. It has great business administration and psychology departments.”
A junior this fall, Nunez-Martinez is an Act Six Scholar, which has been instrumental toward his college career. Act Six is a leadership and scholarship program sponsored by Urban Ventures in Minneapolis. Diverse, multicultural cohorts of young people are supported in pursuing higher education with a scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition. They are also encouraged to give back to their communities with a faith-based, social justice focus.
“The biggest thing that helped me fit into Bethany Lutheran College was the Act Six Scholarship, which helped me greatly. They helped me save thousands of dollars . . . the reward itself is very generous. Without Act Six, I would not be at Bethany Lutheran College. It gives me a way to further progress in my career,” Nunez-Martinez said.
After students are selected for the Act Six Scholarship, participating colleges review the students’ applications and students are matched with institutions. Act Six supports Scholars for the four years and beyond, providing networking opportunities while connecting them to jobs and internships.
Besides Act Six, Nunez-Martinez is also a member of the Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program where people go to national and state parks to do environmental service work such as taking out invasive species, building trails, and assisting wildlife. Despite setbacks tied to COVID-19, Nunez-Martinez did another term last summer at Hassan Park Reserve in Central Minnesota.
“The AmeriCorps Education Award helps a lot when you’re trying to pay for loans and college. Next year, I will do the program again because you are able to do it four different terms. Not only do they pay you, but the Education Award is surprisingly very good,” Nunez-Martinez said.
Nunez-Martinez plans to use his Business Administration major and Psychology minor to pursue a career in human resources after graduation. He appreciates how Bethany provides him with strong opportunities to be involved in his community, including the speech team, student Senate, and business club.
When it comes to paying for college, Nunez-Martinez is also grateful to receive federal and state aid, along with a work-study award. This compelled him to get involved with this year’s advocacy initiative, “Student Voices,” to convey the importance of the State Grant program to lawmakers. He was happy to speak with his hometown legislator, Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, in a virtual legislative meeting.
“I think the government should invest in students at private colleges for many reasons. By focusing on the State Grant, it gives a lot of students the ability to pay for these costs — tuition, room, board — giving them the chance to pick a college that best suits them,” Nunez-Martinez said.
by Monali Bhakta
There are six Minnesota institutions that are participating in the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of the Act Six Program: Augsburg University, Bethany Lutheran College, Bethel University, Concordia College, North Central University and University of Northwestern-St. Paul.