Tuesday, July 11, 2017

ATS Students Head East, Part 2!

This reflection is shared by Martin Flores, a student at Rancho Cotate High School.

Can you think of a better way to begin the summer before your senior year than going to tour Harvard, NYU, Boston College, and Columbia University?  Did not think so.

Before I continue, I would like to give a huge thank you to the chaperones, thank you to all the people who made this possible, and thank you to everyone who participated on this journey.
Over my course as a student I have been on many great trips but, nothing like this one. It was a week long trek that took 12 students, all with the same goal of going to college, to the other side of the country to tour some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Personally, this trip was an eye-opener because I never really believed that I could see myself living or studying in any place other than California. However, this trip has completely changed my mind. Not only was this trip a great educational experience but it exposed the majority of us to the different cultures that exist within the US.

Upon hearing about an opportunity to tour these universities, I was interested to see what other out-of-state opportunities there was because of how much I enjoyed Spring Tours to Oregon. However, I did not think I was going to get picked. I did not apply because of the fact that we were going to go to NYC or Boston. For me it was the fact that I could have the opportunity to tour the university that I dream to go to and the one that I have been talking to their soccer coach for the last year. That university was Harvard.

Touring Harvard was the highlight of the trip. It was a fantastic experience because I was able to get a first-hand account of the campus community and really consider if I could see myself attending the university. I learned not only about some of the academics that come along with Harvard but, I learned about the different financial aid opportunities for low income families. Furthermore, I tried to arrange a meeting with their soccer coach but, unfortunately, he was not in town. Beside that minor setback, Harvard is definitely a university where I can see myself continuing my education. For that I thank ATS and EduTrips for giving me this opportunity that very few get.

Aside from touring college campuses and exploring Boston and New York City, I was fortunate enough to meet some incredible people. At first, it was awkward because no one really wanted to take a risk and meet new people. However, after introductions we all began to mesh into one big group and talk to each other. Also, because of this trip I was able to make some amazing friends from all over Northern California and some great memories. Lastly, I can say that spending everyday with our chaperones and new friends was definitely a highlight. 

Furthermore, I believe this trip really influenced me in being wise about where to apply and what I like about a college and what not. Also, the current college students' input on the academics, college community, and city was very helpful for me considering a college or not. I think that our student tour guides really helped me get a feel for the college life at their college. Some of our tour guides on the college tours were from small towns, like most of us are, so to hear how it was for them really helped me.

In conclusion, this trip was a once in a lifetime experience. From those six days I will remember the countless laughs, memories, friends, and valuable college information. Once again, a huge thank you to our amazing advisors/ chaperones Casey Herriott, Moises Gonzalez, Jose Arroyo, the whole ATS staff, and anyone that I forgot to mention for a memorable college and cultural experience.

Friday, June 30, 2017

ATS Students head East!

ATS had a rare chance in June to send a few students to visit some prestigious universities in the northeastern United States.  You may have heard of a few of them.  We are publishing their reflections in our blog!

The first one is by Areli Alvarez, an El Molino High School student.

Six of the most memorable days I have ever had were because of the ATS East Coast campus
tour held in Boston, Cambridge, and New York City. This experience was unlike any other. I
have been fortunate enough to be able to go on a few college campus tours, but none were like
those that 11 other students and I experienced on the East Coast. The atmosphere of the east
coast was so different from the atmosphere of the west coast. Being able to experience such a trip
was amazing on its own, but being able to experience it with other wonderful individuals, the
students and chaperones, made it that much more enjoyable and memorable.

If it weren’t for my ATS advisor, Jimmy Bailon, and him pushing me to apply for the east coast
tours, I wouldn’t be reflecting upon it today. I was skeptical about it all:  the application, the
campuses, the traveling to the other side of the United States, all because I didn’t have an open
mind towards considering the idea that I could go to college outside of California. However,
eventually I came to my senses and realized that applying wouldn’t hurt and if I did get accepted,
it would be an experience I could cherish forever.

A building on the (rainy) Harvard tour
I learned so much from all of the campus visits that I wouldn’t otherwise know if I hadn’t been
present at the tours. Lots must be taken into consideration when beginning to select colleges of
interest for future one’s education. For example, asking yourself if being far, far away from
home, across the country, seems like a good idea. Or how the financial aid amounts are
determined. Specifically, it was helpful to know what each campus looked for test wise when
sending in scores with the application. Being able to go to four different campuses gave us
students a taste of a few different atmospheres. We got to figure out what we liked and didn’t:
busy campus in the city? Mellow environment with a small population of students? Studying
abroad rather than staying at the initial campus? And more. In a way, we got a sneak peek of
what college could be like. Meeting new people, staying in a hotel room and making new
friends, being on numerous campuses and getting a feel for the school, and overall, being that
much more independent in cities we were unfamiliar with. We, the students, grew as people and
began to find ourselves and our likes and dislikes; this helped so much with the confusion that
rose, and still continues to sometimes rise, when the topic of college comes up.

Because of the east coast tours, I know that I want to stay close to home, in California. The
atmospheres I happened to experience were unique and absolutely incredible, but I know that those atmospheres and environments aren’t the ones for me. Visiting Harvard,Boston College, NYU, and Columbia was a true blessing and it taught me so much. I’m more open to campuses I wouldn’t normally consider because while I don’t see myself going to an east coast campus, the campuses did expose characteristics and factors that I do have an interest in for college in the future. The opportunity to visit the east coast was unlike any other. From visiting the Statue of Liberty and roaming around Times Square, to driving past the baseball stadium where the Red Sox play and visiting Harvard, a university from which eight United States presidents graduated. It was an experience I will never forget. It was one for the books.

Areli and new friends from Upward Bound, in Boston

Monday, March 27, 2017

ATS Student Opens Mind to Oregon

My Spring Break Campus Tour Reflection

by Alejandra Perez

Spending my spring break traveling overnight with my fellow ATS peers was an experience like no other. I have been college touring, but have not experienced a back-to-back college touring overnight trip. I have to commend the ATS outreach advisors for making this trip so enjoyable and such a valuable learning experience, no matter all the hiccups we faced along the way.

My first thoughts about college touring in Oregon were not so optimistic. Having been already set on going to college in Southern California, I did not have an open-mind about Oregon at first. I dreaded cold weather and found Oregon not to be one of my first choices when thinking about college. With a little encouragement from my parents, I decided to take advantage of my opportunities--I am so glad I did!

During the trip, I gained valuable information I would not have gained otherwise. It is important to consider all the factors: Can I see myself at this campus? Will I receive financial aid? What are their popular majors? The cost? etc. Moreover, I gained the value of meeting new people and bonding with your peers. Staying overnight at the hotel and sharing a room with girls I would otherwise never run into, taught me the value of building and creating new relationships. In college, I will not know my roommate nor anyone else for that matter, traveling with ATS students taught me the importance of being confident--to not fear meeting new people.

Along the way, I also got to reconnect with some old friends from my elementary school years. Spending time with Karen and Karina was such a blast! We really shared some laughs.
Rosy, Karen and Alejandra at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) pregnancy exhibition
However, by far I valued the college tour trip to Reed the most. Reed College really took me away with its academics, small class size, campus life, and so much more! If it were not for this college tour trip, I would have never considered or even thought about applying for Reed College. I have to say the most valuable knowledge I gained throughout this trip is to keep an open mind. Touring a college can really change the way one previously thought of it. I can now say that I can see myself attending college in Oregon and am also open to traveling even further out-of-state. Right now, I have realized that I am really open to learning more about college campuses and visiting places I otherwise never would have thought of. It is important to take advantage of your opportunities because one never knows where it can take you.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

College Greenlight Marathon gets some ATS traffic

Will Hemphill submitted this photo from
visit to UC Berkeley
On February 25th, some ATS students invested  precious Saturday hours to explore colleges and search for scholarships during the College Greenlight Marathon.  Just by participating, students were eligible for hourly raffles to earn up to $100 in gift cards and qualify for a $1,000 scholarship by uploading photos of completed scholarship applications and visits to college campuses or college fairs, an updated college list, or a college application. We identified the ten most active ATS participants and awarded them $10 Starbucks cards. We like to reward resourcefulness!

All ATS students are urged to set up a profile at College Greenlight and avail themselves of the many tools and resources for college exploration and scholarship applications. Indicate you are a member of Sonoma State Academic Talent Search program to gain access to their free resources.

Lexy Bateman and Dahlia Viramontes entered
 a photo from their visit to UCLA.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

RUP Junior Represents ATS at Georgetown University and Washington DC!

Hi, I’m Giselle Gonzalez,

a junior at Roseland University Prep.

This past June I attended the National Student Leadership Congress (NSLC) in Washington D.C. The Academic Talent Search program selected me as a student delegate!  I stayed in the dorms at Georgetown University. The NSLC consisted of 151 TRIO (including Talent Search and Upward Bound) students from all over the United States. My experience there was unlike any I’ve ever had. I can't help but smile when I think about it. I had never been to Washington D.C. before so everything was new. Upon my arrival, I was welcomed at the Reagan National Airport, then taken to Georgetown by the NSLC staff. When I was all settled in I went to eat lunch, as soon I walked in I was blown away by what I saw.

The room was filled with more than a hundred teenagers, who all clapped as we entered.  

Everyone was so buoyant and very welcoming. I was assigned to be in a group with eleven other student delegates and a staff member as our leader. By the end of the week those twelve individuals were no longer strangers, but close friends. Larry Bell, one of our guest speakers, taught me that how to be more accepting of others and how to always keep and to be proud of who we are. Mr. Bell helped many people open up and share some of their personal stories. Roberto Rodriguez, the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Education, who has worked alongside President Obama, taught me to value education. That if I love something to pursue it and not let anything get in my way. Richard Taylor, a TRIO alumnus, shared his experience growing up and being part of the TRIO programs. One of the main tasks assigned to us was that we had a mock trial in which each group presented a law. This task challenged us to think outside of the box. As a student delegate I had the opportunity to meet up with Chrystal Martinez, Legislative Assistant to California Senator Feinstein. I felt like I connected with her because she was also a young Hispanic woman who really motivated me. I had the opportunity to ask her questions about what she did to get where she is now, she had some questions for me as well. Hearing her story really motivated me, she showed me that a young Hispanic girl can do it; to ignore everything society has to say and just do it.

I met many people who I am still in contact with, all of different races and cultures which I learned a lot from. I shared with them traditions I do in my hometown and they did the same. Not only did I meet new people and learn an abundance of new things but I had the opportunity to visit some special places in DC. I visited the Capitol Hill, Union Station, The Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian, The Martin Luther King Memorial, The Air and Space Museum, and The White House.


Reflections on Dominican University Visit with ATS 10th & 11th Graders

Submitted by ATS Outreach Advisor Jimmy Bailon

Jimmy Bailon
September 10 2016 -- My first day working for the Academic Talent Search (ATS) Program at Sonoma State University started in parking lot E of the university campus – sitting in my car waiting for someone I would recognize.  At the same time, my mind was running through all the possible first-day-of-work disasters: What if I lose a student? Am I in the wrong spot? Did I step on something? It was the infamous “Sonoma Aroma” – and just as I figured that out, I recognized my fellow Outreach Advisors from their online ATS profile pictures. It was Casey and Michael – I introduced myself to them as the new Outreach Advisor – and shortly after, David arrived and so did my bosses, Susan and Urjita.  We, along with approximately 100 ATS-students, were heading to Dominican University for a campus tour and to watch a rendition of the Shakespeare play Othello.

Soon, I was boarding a school bus filled with excited ATS students. I was tasked with roll call, and pausing before carefully reading each one, I called out students’ names – some, I recognized as the names of Aztec gods and goddesses. By the time we arrived at Dominican University my fears were subsiding as I had started to become acquainted with some of the students along the way, and with some of the parents while waiting to board the bus.

We toured Dominican University, which was founded by Catholic nuns and is known for its strong nursing program. It was beautiful – surrounded by green hills, the greenery seemed to grow into and along the sides of some of the buildings with their beautiful architecture. We ate dinner at the student dining hall and I sat with two bright students whose parents had come to the United States from Mexico. They were both student-athletes who played soccer for their respective high schools. Listening to them and other students speak about their backgrounds and aspirations, and sensing how tenaciously some of them work, I began to discover within myself a growing admiration for how they are laying a path towards a better future for themselves – and by extension, their families and communities.
After dinner, we began our trek over to an open-air theater to watch Othello just as the sun was setting over the hills. Crossing an intersection with a four-way stop, a lady poked her head out of her car as she waited for all of us to cross in front of her– and asked, “What is this?” For a moment, I thought she was bothered by the long line of students streaming across, but when I replied, “It’s a campus tour.” She smiled and sweetly said, “I hope they like it.”

We arrived at the outdoor theater, whose stage sat over a water-filled creek and seemed to float above it. The main character, Othello, was played by a former convict who had been in prison for murder and had learned the acting trade while incarcerated. His eyes and expressions demonstrated intense emotions as he played his role. It was a tragic ending and some of the students were not happy about it.
On our way back to Sonoma State, I sat in the back of the bus with some students who were taking selfies – I discreetly laughed and listened to their silly jokes. I noticed their tired but happy faces and thought about some of their beautiful and unique names. How much careful thought must have been invested in finding them?

As we arrived back to parking lot E close to midnight, I saw parents waiting and some just arriving. Some were wrapped in their rebozos and blankets, and they too looked tired but happy.  After the last student had been picked up, we all lingered and spoke about how the evening had unfolded. I was tired and hungry, but I was happy over my new job and about the good people who I was now working with.
Driving home, I felt truly happy realizing that I was part of a program that helps build the future.  The students I was now working with, for the sake of succinct categorization, are often described as coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. But in reality, they have been gifted with a unique perspective. Where they come from and where they are headed are two distinct places that someday will connect through a path that they are now paving – and that others will follow.  As I learned that day, most of them will be the first in their families to graduate from college; and when they do, they will elevate their families and communities in more than just spirit. They will be our teachers, politicians, scientists – and as they rise to these prominent positions and adapt to their new environments, their identities will be challenged and they might forget their origin. I began to wonder what would be there to remind them.  I thought of their names and families – and how for me, going to Dominican University with these tenacious students, and listening to them speak about where they come from, had brought me back to my own origin. And before I realized it, I was home and I was happy to be so.

Banana Slugs and Basketball

David Vinas
Submitted by David Vinas, ATS Outreach Advisor  

On February 4th, ATS 9th grade students had the opportunity to visit UC Santa Cruz. We received a campus tour from one of our ATS alumni, Sebastian Timpe. During our tour, students were completed a scavenger hunt worksheet filled with questions about the college.

ATS alumni Sebastian Timpe, Mireya Robles, Fernanda Diaz

Later we gathered at the Student Union Center where a group of UCSC students formed a panel to answer students’ questions.  Mireya Robles and Fernanda Diaz, both ATS alumni, participated in this student panel. Our students were engaged during the student panel and asked important questions regarding the university and the college life. Once the student panel was over, students checked out the bookstore to purchase UCSC souvenirs. Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious all-you-can-eat meal at the Stevenson/Cowell Dining Hall on campus.

To finalize our day, we attended the UCSC women's basketball game at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. One of the fascinating things about this arena is that it is also the home to the Santa Cruz Warriors who play in the NBA Development League. In addition, this arena hosts all basketball games for UCSC. This impressive arena has an approximate capacity of 3,200. One of the highlights during the game was that we were greeted by the announcer through the microphone, “Welcome Academic Talent Search from Sonoma County!” The students were excited to hear their program be recognized. Just when we thought that was enough, one of our students, Alex was selected to participate in a trivia contest during the halftime show to commemorate the band The Grateful Dead. Fortunately, he survived a brutal question and got the answer correct. Our program could not be happier for him. In the end, our day was long, but the students enjoyed a well-deserved field trip.
Alex Dominguez won a prize during the trivia competition!

More photos will be posted on the ATS Members Facebook page.