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April 11, 2005

Hundreds of high schoolers get taste of life at UCSC

By Louise Donahue

Two hundred high school seniors who have been admitted to UCSC—but have yet to make a final decision—have a lot to think about following a whirlwind campus visit hosted by three UCSC student-initiated outreach programs.

Photo of crowd

The high school students gathered on Friday at Merrill College Multipurpose Room.
Photos: Louise Donahue
Photo of students at table

Liza Hannah Buenafe of Hawthorne, left, and Nina Douglas of Lancaster get to know each other at Merrill College.

High school students from around the state were invited to visit the campus April 7-9, and the student outreach volunteers worked with the Admissions Office to give the students a taste of campus life.

The three student outreach groups are Destination Higher Education, organized by the African/Black Student Alliance; A Step Forward, run by the Filipino Student Association; and ORALE, or Oportunidades Rumbo A La Educación, presented by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan (MEChA).

Admissions Director Kevin Browne said such visits to campus are crucial as students decide where to enroll.

“These programs get the students to the campus, where they can make a clear distinction between their perception of the campus and reality,” Browne said.

The visit included workshops on such nuts-and-bolts topics as financial aid and academic support as well as a chance to get acquainted with the different ethnic groups that are part of life at UCSC. A highlight of the students’ trip was a “collaborative dinner,” with salsa dancing and hip-hop music presented by the student organizations as well as a performance by the multicultural Rainbow Theater.

Chancellor Denice D. Denton welcomed the students to campus, sharing with them her commitment to diversity and educational access. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Francisco Hernandez hosted them the next day at a barbecue lunch at the Merrill Multipurpose Room.

Outreach volunteer Ray Austin with A Step Forward knows first-hand the impact such efforts can have. He said he was planning to attend a private college until he came to UCSC as part of the A Step Forward outreach program two years ago. “Not many students at other schools would do this,” said Austin, now a second-year student at Oakes active in A Step Forward. “You know the admissions office wants you, but here the students are welcoming—that’s what really drew me.”

Austin said the UCSC volunteers include both students who participated in student outreach programs as high school students and those who did not.

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