Parishioners at three local churches got more than a sermon on Sunday, Feb. 20. They got a pitch for the value of a college education — straight from the pulpit.
Cal State Monterey Bay President Dianne Harrison, Provost Kathy Cruz-Uribe and Vice President for Student Affairs Ronnie Higgs visited churches in Seaside and Pacific Grove as part of a California State University program called Super Sunday.
On Sundays through February, dozens of administrators from the CSU system are fanning out to more than 100 black churches across the state to spread the gospel of higher education. The goal is to increase the number of African-American students attending college.
Dr. Harrison reminded the congregation at Greater Victory Temple in Seaside that CSUMB “is your hometown university.”
She told members of the congregation that CSUMB offers 18 undergraduate degrees and eight master’s programs, and new programs in marine science, environmental studies, Spanish, Japanese and nursing are expected to be added in the near future.
“Let’s all work together to make sure children – your children – take advantage of the educational opportunities offered at the CSU so they become the educated minds that will take California to the next stage of economic prosperity,” she told parishioners.
She said unemployment figures for California clearly demonstrate the value of a college degree: While those without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 19 percent, the rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is only 6 percent.
The road to college begins early – in the sixth grade, when students should begin taking English. Algebra needs to be tackled in the eighth grade and calculus in the 12th grade, Dr. Harrison told them.
“This is why we are here today asking grandparents, parents and mentors to push students to work harder in middle and high school,” she said. “Young people tend to achieve what’s expected of them. They need to know that we expect them to prepare for college.”
University staff members passed out information and answered questions at the end of the service.
Dr. Cruz-Uribe conveyed the college-going message when she visited Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Seaside; Dr. Higgs took the message to parishioners at the First Baptist Church of Pacific Grove.
Ten CSUMB students and a staff member were honored with community service awards at Greater Victory Temple. Photos by Randy Tunnell