May 19, 2009

It’ll be years before they even graduate from high school, but 450 Salinas sixth-grade students are already planning for college, thanks to a new program at CSU Monterey Bay.

On Tuesday, youngsters from five schools in the Salinas City Elementary School District visited campus. They promised to do their best in school, work hard, graduate from high school and pursueStudents at University Center a college degree as part of the University Promise of CSU Monterey Bay.

In return, President Dianne Harrison promised that CSU Monterey Bay will save a spot for them if they complete high school and meet other basic requirements. She also promised that the university will work with the students and their parents to help arrange financial aid.

“A big reason our university exists is to provide an opportunity for students like you from around the Salinas area to complete college and be prepared to go out and earn a living and help make the world a better place,” she told the students and school district staff members gathered in the University Center ballroom.

Each student received a packet containing a poster that explains what they need to do to prepare for college on a year-by-year basis starting in the sixth grade; a certificate for them to sign acknowledging their promise to prepare for and attend college; information on the outreach and support programs available at CSUMB; and a letter to their parents explaining the event and asking them to frame and display the certificate.

Sixth Graders at Tanimura and Antle Family Memorial LibraryAnd they received a Junior Otter card, with a space for their signature. The card reminds the students that they have pledged to prepare for, attend and graduate from college.

University students led the youngsters on a tour of campus, visiting the science building, the library and the student center. The visit concluded with a brown-bag lunch on the campus quad.

Next Wednesday, about 200 students from the Alisal Union School District will visit campus. More University Promise visits are planned in the fall.

The pilot program was developed by university officials who realized that CSU Monterey Bay can help youngsters recognize opportunities and choices that they may not have realized exist for them. It also is another way to help keep students motivated for success and away from gangs and other negative influences.