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Local African American Students Encouraged to ‘Dare to Dream’ About Achieving A College Education

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Gathered in the Price Center Ballroom on the UC San Diego campus, local African American middle and high school students were asked to imagine the university as part of their future. Today, they would be one step closer to realizing the dream of a better education.

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla extended a warm welcome to the students, families and community members in the room. “I want to see more students from the local community, students of all backgrounds, attending UC San Diego. If you’re worried you won’t fit in at this campus, I’m telling you: You belong here.”

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla

More than 500 African-American middle and high school students, parents and community members visited the UC San Diego campus Saturday for Dare to Dream College: The African-American Experience. Hosted by the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) and community partners, the college-readiness conference included more than a dozen workshops and a resource fair on Library Walk.

“I want you to imagine yourself here,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue at the beginning of the conference. “This is the place where dreams come true. UC San Diego is one of the top universities in the nation—and it’s right here in your backyard.”

During the program, Khosla addressed concerns about affording a UC education, assuring students that cost should not discourage them from applying. “Let us worry about putting together a financial aid package for you,” he said, encouraging students to study hard and focus on meeting the admissions requirements.

The Dare to Dream College conference was developed out of concern for the academic achievement of African American students in San Diego, and the need for community-wide efforts to support student success.

The percentage of African American students attending college has been steadily declining over the last decade, said Joyce Suber, an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) consultant and educator.

For many of the students and parents, this was their first time visiting UC San Diego. The conference provided an opportunity to explore the campus and begin thinking of the university as part of their future—and then learn how to achieve that future.

Following the opening program, attendees were invited to participate in a variety of workshops covering the UC application process, how to prepare for the SAT, financial aid resources, pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and much more. Current UC San Diego students from the Black Student Union shared their own stories of overcoming obstacles to become successful college students. In addition, a workshop just for parents discussed the parent’s role in the college readiness process.

“My counselor has talked to me about applying to college but not with the detail that was provided today,” remarked a junior named Iran from University City High School. “I’m so excited to go to college,” she said.

Cal-SOAP works under the direction of the California Student Aid Commission and is operated in partnership with the University of California, California State University, local nonprofits and public elementary and secondary school districts. Cal-SOAP provides information about postsecondary education and financial aid to elementary through high school students, focusing on students from low-income families and underserved areas. For more information, visit http://www.sandiegocalsoap.com/star/.