CSU Voices and Views

The First Step Toward Graduation

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.

The CSUDH university theater is standing room only, as students raise their hands in a commitment to visit every booth at CSU Super Saturday

The CSUDH university theater is standing room only, as students raise their hands in a commitment to visit every booth at CSU Super Saturday

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.

High school seniors from Los Angeles – Keon Thomas, Joshua Hempstead and Nickholas Hempstead – meet with T. Fox and his wife.

High school seniors from Los Angeles – Keon Thomas, Joshua Hempstead and Nickholas Hempstead – meet with T. Fox and his wife.

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.

Students, parents and students attending a workshop

Students, parents and mentors attending a workshop

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.

Imani Turner of Frederick K. C. Price High School and Genesis Stewart of Lou Dantzler High School look at the many options of CSU campuses and programs

Imani Turner of Frederick K. C. Price High School and Genesis Stewart of Lou Dantzler High School look at the many options of CSU campuses and programs

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.

High school student in cap and gown gets a preview of college graduation

High school student in cap and gown gets a preview of college graduation

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.

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2 Comments to “The First Step Toward Graduation”

  1. Mr. Otherside, Student from Los Angeles, Says:

    Graduation is important because it means that the CSU system can earn those revenue dollars from Juniors and Seniors.

  2. Erik Fallis Says:

    Mr. Otherside,

    I do not see how you came to your conclusion.

    If all the CSU wanted to do was pack our campuses with students and collect tuition fees, the demand would be there to do so. The CSU has chosen to limit the number of students that attend so that we can provide a quality education to all those attending. The limit on student is set by the number the state is willing to subsidize, since the state still pays about half the cost of every resident student.

    If anything, timely graduation reduces higher education costs for current students and allows future students access to limited space.

    Thanks, Erik

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