By Gayle Ball-Parker
University Outreach and Information Services Director
CSU Dominguez Hills
“I scrubbed floors so you wouldn’t have to.” That was something my grandmother–who worked as a maid–would frequently say as she and my family ensured I stayed on the path to college. It was never a question of whether I would go to college, it was a question of where.
The church community supported my family in keeping me focused. When I would go to church, people would ask to see my grades and award my achievements. I learned the soft skills in church, like speaking in front of groups, studying, memorization and handling social situations.
The entire church community was proud when I was the first in my family to go to college. Once I started down that academic path, I just kept going–with a bachelor’s from CSU Dominguez Hills, a master’s from CSU Long Beach and a doctorate from Pepperdine.
That experience is what drives me to be part of CSU Super Sunday. I know that the African American church is an important conduit to reach children and families. Many just do not have access to the information on how to get to college and how to pay for college. If no one in a family has ever attended college, just finding that information can be intimidating. The churches can help bridge that gap.
It is also a remarkable honor being extended to CSU leaders. To be allowed to come into the church and speak from the pulpit is a sign of great trust. It is evidence of how central education is to the historic struggle for social justice and equality. It is also only possible because the partnership between the churches and the CSU is not confined to one event. Throughout the year, we implement the Train the Trainer Program at CSU campuses, the Summer Algebra Institutes at the churches and give students a chance to visit CSU campuses.
As the outreach director for CSU Dominguez Hills and a member of a church involved in the CSU African American Initiative, I know that there is power in this partnership. Together the CSU and churches are making a difference in young lives and living the mission of educational access.