LIFE Program Mentors Empower High School Students | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

Main Content Start

LIFE Program Mentors Empower High School Students

LIFE program 

Jennifer Ortiz credits NWACC’s LIFE (Learning, Improvement, Fun and Empowerment) program with being a game changer. Now, she’s striving to be that positive influence for others.

Jennifer is a LIFE mentor. LIFE mentors are college students who agree to work as volunteers to empower and support other students.

“I saw the difference LIFE made in my life,” she says, “and I want to be able to do that for someone else.”

The mission for LIFE at NWACC is to empower and create the desire and access to quality higher educational opportunities for students, to promote student success during and after their enrollment in the LIFE program, and to create an atmosphere of acceptance and cultural celebration by linking all communities and peoples.

Among the program’s activities are a three-day summer program that brings scores of high school students and recent high school grads to the NWACC campus for a series of fun events, motivational lessons and activities that prepare students to apply for admission to college.

LIFE program

Ariadna Valencia, a fellow LIFE mentor, says the program is helpful in providing answers and resources. “It makes you want to stay focused,” she says.

“To keep going,” Jennifer adds.

In one of his first major volunteer activities, Jose Rodriguez, another mentor, assisted with a FASFA event at Springdale High School, his alma mater. He’s a big fan of the LIFE program’s commitment to connecting with students and giving back to the community.

Another first-year mentor, Carlos Emanuel Moreno, also is enthusiastic about his volunteer role. “I’m happy to be part of such a great program,” he says.

Those mentors and others gathered for a brief ceremony opening the LIFE Lounge on the second floor of the NWACC student center. The lounge, funded by an ongoing grant from Cox Communications and furnished by generous contributions from LIFE program supporters, is open to students who participated in the LIFE program and then enrolled in courses at NWACC. The lounge offers a gathering place for students who want to study, network or relax.

Juanita Franklin, LIFE program director and associate director of Hispanic outreach, thanked Cox Communications for the generous volunteer and monetary support of the program. She also praised Codie Ryan, who had the vision for the outreach program and founded it in 2012, and Dr. Todd Kitchen, who provided the encouragement for the program’s establishment and continues to champion its initiatives and work at the college and in the community.

She praised the faculty, staff and previous mentors who all support the program in significant ways.

Dr. Evelyn E. Jorgenson, NWACC’s president, noted the program’s growth from an idea in 2012 to what it is now. “We’re all thrilled with how the program has grown to be a wonderful part of the college,” she said.

Mat Mazzoni with Cox Communications also expressed his enthusiasm for LIFE. “It’s so exciting to see what they do for the community,” he said. He added that it’s a pleasure for Cox to be a partner with the LIFE program.

Check out our LIFE program video below:


There’s a Place for You Here

Visit or call 479-986-4000 to learn more about choosing a higher education with NWACC.