By William A. Covino
President, Cal State L.A.
Last Sunday was my first “Super Sunday” as the President of Cal State L.A. and I looked forward to joining with our community to discuss the importance of a college education – and help our young people identify pathways to success and a degree.
Super Sunday at the historic West Angeles Church was one of over 100 events that took place throughout California. This critical day of outreach represented the “kick-off” of many partnership efforts between the CSU African American Initiative and African American churches during the year. Since 2005, CSU Super Sunday efforts have more than quadrupled in size as CSU presidents, trustees, faculty and professional staff spend a day engaging with their communities. We are now reaching well over 100,000 African American students and families.
There is still much work to do in the African American community to reach out to students and families. That is why the CSU continues to be dedicated to providing access, financial aid, and an opportunity for a quality education for students from underserved populations. Super Sunday is one way we underscore this dedication. Especially as we’re reminded that the CSU’s outreach to the African-American community is not only about numbers on a page, or how many diplomas are awarded – although these are important benchmarks.
It’s about the sum of stories. Stories of students like:
Darnell Cates – a TV, Film and Media Studies major at Cal State L.A. who made it out of the foster care system and into college. Darnell grew up in a gang-infested neighborhood of Los Angeles and missed school a lot. Over a two-year period he bounced through six or seven foster homes. Eventually, he was adopted by Mary and Arthur Cates who helped Darnell realize his potential. And, from the first day he stepped onto the Cal State L.A. campus, Darnell knew he had already beaten the odds.
De’Shay Thomas – The daughter of a single mother from Bakersfield, and the first in her family to go to college, De’Shay graduated from Cal State L.A. last year with a master’s degree in forensic social work. She credits her family and the Cal State L.A. faculty with helping her pursue these dreams. And today, she’s pursuing her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Arizona – where she has a full ride scholarship.
These stories are not unlike so many students who call Cal State L.A. home. They’re stories of struggle and determination, hard work and success. This Super Sunday we take pride in all they’ve accomplished and what they’ll go on to do next.
And, personally, I couldn’t wait to reach out to the next Darnell or De’Shay last Sunday. I have a feeling they were sitting in the pews of West Angeles Church.