ÂOvercomers,Â ÂHeroes,Â ÂFruit LoopsÂ help pave path to college
Service project introduces children, prepares CSULA freshmen for higher education
After identifying a personal challenge and writing it down on a hand-painted cardboard box, third graders in Kennedy Elementary School used the ÂbricksÂ to build a make-shift wall, and then knocked it down to symbolize that they can overcome any obstacles in their path.
Called the ÂOvercomers,Â the demonstration was created to convey the message that the children can achieve success and even go to college. It was one of several motivational and interactive activities presented by Cal State L.A. freshmen as part of the community service component of the UNIV 101 course, entitled ÂIntroduction to Higher Education.Â
Valerie Talavera-Bustillos, who teaches UNIV 101 for the College of Natural and Social Sciences, said, ÂThe Introduction to Higher Education course is designed to instruct new CSULA students to apply their knowledge and skills for academic and social success, and understand the myriad aspects of student life and the structure of CSULA.Â
The class project, coordinated through the UniversityÂs Educational Participation in Communities (EPIC) Program, involved more than 120 CSULA freshmen and served more than 500 kids at Kennedy and Huntington Drive elementary schools.
As part of the National Education AssociationÂs (NEA) Read Across America festivities, teams of CSULA students will ÂGo Green!Â Fridays, March 2 and 9, in celebration of Dr. SeussÂs 108th birthday. They will present readings of the book, The Lorax, and organize other fun-filled activities for the young students at four local schoolsÂAnn Street, Anton, Huntington Drive and Kennedy. Throughout the year, 25 Cal State L.A. students tutor more than 300 children at the four school sites through the UniversityÂs EPIC (Educational Participation in Communities) America Reads and Counts program.
ÂTeams of CSULA students worked together to brainstorm topics, themes and issues related to college preparation and literacy for elementary school students,Â explained Rosie Zapata-Martinez, who teaches UNIV 101 for the College of Health and Human Services.
Through a ÂHeroesÂ presentation by CSULA students, the fourth graders at Kennedy learned that role models are everywhere and they can be anyone, such as parents, teachers, big brothers and sisters. Each CSULA student, standing in the middle of a jumbo-size TV screen made out of cardboard, introduced the ÂheroÂ that helped play a key role in keeping him or her on the path to college.
ÂOur main objective was to get the children thinking about their educational and personal goals,Â said Cindy Gomez, who enjoyed creating the ÂHeroesÂ presentation and serving as a role model for these kids too. ÂThe whole process of the project was fun. If I had the chance to do it again, I would definitely do it all over!Â
Another presentation, entitled ÂThe Fruit Loops,Â promoted healthy food and tips for the first graders at Kennedy regarding keeping their bodies active. CSULA student Darren Ly and his fellow team members shared their interest in sports and eating a well-balanced diet, in order to emphasize how their lifestyles have helped them to be better students in preparation for college.
Furthermore, to inspire the children at Huntington, groups of CSULA students also put together a variety of stimulating, hands-on activities that were titled ÂBe Alert, Be AwareÂ Careers are Everywhere,Â ÂReading is Fun! Homework is Key to Success,Â ÂThe Next Steps to Your Future,Â ÂThe Path to Higher Education,Â and ÂWhat Do You Want to Be? College is Key!Â
Both Talavera-Bustillo and Zapata-Martinez collaborated with EPICÂs Victoria Mosqueda, who has an ongoing partnership with the two school sites, to facilitate this class project of four UNIV 101 classes.
ÂThese presentations served as the course final project and students worked on the presentations the entire quarter,Â said Mosqueda. ÂThere were 20 presentations in total; all of which were 100 percent successful and received positive responses from the teachers and principals.Â
Huntington Drive School principal Roberto Salazar was pleased with the overall outcome. In an email, he wrote: ÂCal State L.A. students did a commendable job working with our school staff to create a community service-learning project in which the college students conduct grade-level appropriate presentations on the Âpath to college.Â Thanks to the connection with CSULA, we continue to reinforce our efforts to promote Âcollege goingÂ aspirations for all our elementary students.Â
Here are other links to reference:
- Educational Participation in Communities:
- ÂIntroduction to Higher EducationÂ (UNIV 101):
- CSULA Service Learning:
- CSULA Community Engagement:
- College of Health and Human Services at CSULA:
- College of Natural and Social Sciences at CSULA: