By Andreya Martinez
On Saturday, January 26, a group of students from Ventura County high schools and community colleges visited CI to tour the campus and learn more about school services and programs. The event was a collaboration between the Ventura County Office of Education, Special Populations Division, CIs Promoting Achievement Through Hope (PATH) Program, graduate students in the Higher Education Leadership program and the Dean’s Office at the School of Education. The one-day event was designed to expose students in foster care to the CI campus, the opportunities and services that exist and to encourage them to continue their education.
The day started with the students coming together with opening remarks from Brian Sevier, Dean of the School of Education as well as bilingual introductions from the students from Education Principals Leadership (EDPL) class who led the tour. They had an icebreaker, took a tour of the campus, had lunch at the Islands Cafe and ended the day with a panel in the John Spoor Broome Library featuring alumni and current students that went through similar situations as the visiting students.
Leticia Cazares, Coordinator of PATH Program, led the panel of students and alumni. They shared their stories of homelessness, displacement and other hardships with the visiting youth. After the panel the students were asked to stand in a circle around the room and give one word that described how they felt in the moment. Words like hopeful, confident, resilient and inspired were used.
The event not only benefited the visiting guests, but also the EDPL class who planned it. “I think it is important for our class to be exposed to different people, groups of students we’re not used to,” said Amanda Sanchez, a student of the class. “Because for our class in general, we are supposed to be learning how to facilitate, manage, mitigate [unexpected] things. So being exposed to planning an event for a group of students that we know almost nothing about is important to us as students.”
Another student of the class, attested to the importance of diversity in planning the event. ”A lot of our class is first generation college students so we can talk to that,” said Jesse Paredes. ‘We have single parents. We have different walks of life. So we were able to put all that together and able to plan the event accordingly.”
“We hope that by fostering positive relationships with agencies and organizations in our surrounding community and those who have an interest in higher education,” said Nancy-Jean Pement, Professor of the EDPL class. “Only a very small portion of young people in foster care end up attending university. We want to change that reality.”