By Erik Fallis
CSU Public Affairs
William Franklin, CSU Dominguez Hills associate vice president for student success, made it clear that “when you arrive on campus our goal is to say goodbye.” Of course, he went on to add that when the university does say goodbye, it would be because students have earned their college degree.
“We expect a lot from you,” said Tony Ross, chair of the CSU African American Initiative and vice president of student affairs at Cal State L.A. “We expect you to graduate high school. We expect you to apply to a CSU campus, and we expect you to graduate.”
The often-repeated theme of the 2011 CSU Super Saturday boiled down to this point: that the goal is not college acceptance, it is college completion. The 1,700 students, parents and mentors attending the college fair at CSUDH learned how to be successful in getting that college degree.
During the welcome and opening session, speakers shared their own educational journeys. These journeys started with challenges that many students in the audience could relate to: poverty, struggling schools, single parent homes and discrimination. All of the stories ended in a college degree, in many cases a doctorate level degree.
After the opening session, three high school students from the Goodwill Southern California Youth Program sought out T. Fox, director of the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement program at Cal State L.A. Fox is a product of the CSU system, who overcame many challenges and naysayers in his path to a degree. As Fox said to the students, “do not allow anybody or anything steal your dream.” This message was particularly inspiring to Keon Thomas, Joshua Hempstead and Nickholas Hempstead.
CSU Super Saturday is a college fair, but it is also so much more. Participants had a chance to gain knowledge about preparing, applying and paying for college. They also got a chance to add to the toolbox of educational resources in order to be successful in college. Parents were provided with tips on how to help students get ready for college. Finally, participants had a chance to learn about outstanding African American scientists and inventors.
A college fair is about options, and students attending CSU Super Saturday had many. All CSU campuses were represented, as were numerous industry initiatives. High school seniors Imani Turner and Lou Danzler were working their way through the booths. Already they had accumulated a small stack of material and spoken to numerous outreach staff representing campuses.
Students left CSU Super Saturday with a reminder of the goal: graduation. In cap and gown, students’ photos were taken and printed immediately, providing a lasting memento of their commitment to going to college and successfully completing their degree.