Finally, back in the office! Recently returning from my first Imperial Valley Higher Ed Week program. The Imperial Valley Higher Ed Week is a two-part series that works with seniors in the fall and juniors in the spring. The program is a college-going collaborative effort between the Imperial County of Education and over 25 institutions from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico representing community colleges, four-year public, four-year private, and Mexican institutions.
So, for four days we had 25 college reps caravanning around the Valley visiting schools throughout the day preaching the gospel of Higher Ed. We visited eight high schools and interacted with over 2000 seniors in four days. We even had an college fair at the mall, with our college tables right between the movie theater and food court. This evening time college event gave us the opportunity to engage with parents and speak with students on an individual basis.
For those of you unaware of this part of California, I’ve attached a map with all the schools we visited during the week: Higher Ed Week Map.
Coming back to San Diego, I was just filled with joy. I enjoyed the experience thoroughly. I was able to interact and connect with hundreds of students, met awesome outreach/admissions colleagues, and had enhanced my skill set. With these great colleagues, we had plenty of opportunities to ‘talk shop’ while carpooling to our schools, eating lunch, and decompressing at dinner. One of these conversations led to a discussion about social justice.
One counselor spoke about wanting a new career focused on social justice. And I replied, this is a career focused on social justice! To me, social justice is engaging in the practice of eradicating oppressive behaviors/systems and inequities in our society. Education and particularly, educational attainment is a major injustice in our society. Many of our communities are still faced with lack of access to educational resources afford to others. This is especially true here in the Valley were only 11% of the population have a college degree.
Why so low educational attainment? The people in the valley already have the work-ethic and drive to be successful in educational endeavors. Whether ranchers or farmers, or neither, they are good students and motivated to create a better world for themselves, their family, and their community. These students in rural, low-socioeconomic areas possess determination, resiliency, and drive. All the need is information, support, and aspiration building. The need us to be a gateway to higher education not a gatekeeper.
When I come to outreach events, I feel I am slowly, yet progressively removing inequalities in our society. Students and families are empowered to dream big, proved information for realistic and attainable goals, and most importantly have people guiding them towards success. At events like Higher Ed Week, they gain access to resources, information, and ideas that can positively impact their life.
Last week reaffirmed my passion for working in college admissions and outreach. With continued hard work, we will change the disparity in the education and provide access and opportunity to all; especially those underserved!
For more information about the program check out: www.collegeisnext.com
Below are two news clips/articles: