California State University, Long Beach
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Students ‘Get on Board’ with CSU’s ‘Road to College’ Bus Tour

Published: June 1, 2010

Middle school students at Colin L. Powell Academy in Long Beach received the personal guidance and information they need to start preparing for college years in advance on May 14 when California State University’s (CSU) “Road to College: Get on Board” bus tour stopped by the school.

Since April 12, thousands of middle and high school students at nearly 40 stops throughout California have boarded the 40-foot, high-impact “wired” bus that is wrapped with the “Road to College: Get on Board” theme and logo. The vehicle features laptop computers with career exploration programs, academic preparation support from CSU staff and counselors and financial aid planning information.

Sponsored by AT&T, this last stop on the bus tour featured CSULB student ambassadors and staff who worked with the middle school students.

“Reaching out to kids in middle school is so important in order to make them and their parents aware of the importance and the long-term benefits of early college awareness, planning and preparation,” said Valerie Bordeaux, director of the University Outreach and School Relations Office at CSULB. “Parents are very valuable partners with their children and the schools in the college readiness process. The more parents are involved, the more likely their children will get on track. It’s never too early for students and families to start thinking about college.”

The second-annual bus tour reaches out to underserved communities and highlights the need for future workforce professionals.

“We must continue to work together to find ways to ensure that all students, especially those who have traditionally been underserved, have access to affordable and high-quality education. California’s future depends on it,” added Bordeaux. “This is also important because according to the Public Policy Institute of California projections, by the year 2025 California will have one million fewer college-educated workers than the economy will require.”

This is the second time AT&T and the CSU have partnered for Road to College. In 2008, a $1.6 million, four-year contribution from the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T Corp., funded the CSU College Corps program to provide college advising for 1,000 high school students, as well as the first Road to College bus tour.

“Student success is built on having a goal, a plan and the commitment to overcome challenges along the way,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “Road to College is designed to provide students with the tools to create a better future. Student preparation is the key to a college education that ultimately drives California’s economic engine.”

Colin L. Powell Academy opened in September 1999 to kindergarten through eighth-grade students. With more than 1,500 students, the school is renowned for challenging its students in all academic areas, including music. Currently, the school consists of 66 percent Latino, 24 percent African-American and 10 percent Asian/Pacific Islander students.

University Outreach
Photo by Paul Browning
University Outreach and School Relations Director Valerie Bordeaux (front) is backed up by (l-r) Dimas Romero, Belin Zuniga Lopez, Hugo Robles, Elizabeth Cortes, Wanda Zhu and Aurora Marquez.

“It is never too early to begin preparing students for college and start increasing awareness. That’s why the CSU is bringing college to the students, because it’s important for them to feel like college is a part of their community and that going to college is an attainable goal,” said Sparkle Peterson, principal of Powell Academy. “It’s all about helping students see the connection between their education and their future. At the middle school level, there must be an atmosphere of high expectations and conviction that all students can and should achieve.”

Peterson added, “For some students, their schools may be the only place where they learn about higher education and opportunities available to them. So for the university to reach out like this — it’s like ‘wow!’ for the students. They feel ‘They really do want me to attend college and they do care.’”

Throughout the Road to College tour, students, parents and educators have tracked the progress of the Road to College bus through Twitter and Facebook. The CSU Voices and Views blog has also provided continuous updates and stories from the road.

–Paul Browning