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.

An Interview with ATS Alumna Christina Arredondo

Christina graduated from Windsor High and ATS in 2012.  After completing her Bachelor's degree at San Jose State in 2016, she now is enrolled in a Masters in Counseling program at CSU East Bay. She shares some insights from her experience here.

1.      Why did you select San Jose State for undergraduate studies?
I originally wanted to attend UC Irvine for my undergrad, but I unfortunately did not get accepted. I was stuck between choosing either UC Santa Cruz or San Jose State University, but I ultimately ended up selecting SJSU because at the time I was interested in pursuing a forensic science degree and SJSU was the only CSU that I knew of that offered a forensic science program.

2.      How has your college experience contributed to your career interests?
During my freshman year at SJSU, I switched majors from forensic science to psychology. I loved everything about psychology and learned about the various job opportunities in this field. Being in the psychology program, I became involved with the Psi Chi Honor Society, where they exposed us to professionals in the psychology field. I also became a volunteer rape crisis counselor for the YWCA in downtown San Jose. It was this experience that sparked my interest in pursuing a career in counseling.

3.      How did you choose your grad school program?
When I was a sophomore at SJSU, I took my first upper division course on abnormal psychology, where I met a professor who encouraged me to look into the Master’s in Counseling program at CSU East Bay. The more I explored what this program had to offer, the more I became excited to apply. Fast forward two years later, I received my acceptance offer into CSU East Bay, where I am currently attending my first year of grad school.

4.      When did you know you wanted to go onto grad school?
During my last two years at SJSU, I researched numerous graduate programs, and I decided to apply to grad school right away rather than taking a gap year from school. I knew that I wanted to be a high school counselor or a college advisor, but in order to get there I needed a master’s degree.

5.      Describe your most rewarding college experience.
My most rewarding college experience was being a part of EOP. Through the EOP program, I learned about numerous resources and tools to help me succeed in school. Through EOP, I attended my first graduate school fair at St. Mary’s college, where I got to learn about different schools and their graduate programs. EOP pushed me to be a better student, to push past barriers, and persevere through hardships.

6.      If you were to start college over again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?    
Knowing what I know now, I would have pursued more internship opportunities in my field. I would have also looked for housing off-campus my 2nd year because living on-campus is so expensive. Other than that, I don’t think there is anything else I would change.

7.      Do you have any advice for students starting out on their college experience?          
I would encourage students to be involved on-campus whether it be joining a club, a Greek organization, a sport or simply just showing up to school events. It will really help to make your college experience more fun and memorable. When it comes to purchasing textbooks for classes, look them up cheaper on other websites or through Facebook pages that students make for their school because they will be so expensive at the bookstore. Also, make sure to maintain an organized planner with all your assignment deadlines. I suggest ordering a passion planner, which has by far been the most efficient planner for school, and this can be ordered online at Last, but not least, step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You never know what you will gain or learn out of a new experience.