California State University, Long Beach
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Conoley Shares Inspirational Message

Published: July 1, 2015

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley was able to take time from her busy schedule to share some important messages with soon-to-be high school students when she gave the address at the Jessie Elwin Nelson Academy 8th grade promotion ceremony in Signal Hill on June 17.

“I am a first generation college student and I can tell you that going to college helped me live a good life, and become successful,” said Conoley at the event. “But more than that I met people and studied subjects that changed my ways of seeing the world, understanding myself, and it changed my life. I learned about people and places I never could have imagined. I was inspired to travel and do community service and learn and teach. I learned how to imagine a bigger life.”

She also gave three tips on getting to college—make a plan, be prepared and remain flexible and open to challenge and seize unexpected opportunity.

The academy, named after the co-founder and first mayor of Signal Hill, is built to accommodate 850 students in grades six through eight. Established in 2012, this is the academy’s first graduating class. It includes 316 students and has 15 valedictorians (students who have maintained a straight “A” GPA for the last three years). Each graduate received a “How To Get to the Beach” poster from CSULB.

“Every day at Cal State Long Beach I meet students who are just like me and just like you. Bright, inquisitive, interested in the world and ready to say ‘yes’ to opportunities. I hope that as you enter high school and start thinking about your life after high school you will plan for college. And I hope you consider Cal State Long Beach, or, as we fondly call our campus ‘The Beach,’” said Conoley. “In the meantime, I wish you a great experience in high school. These next four years will go quickly. Sometimes it will be hard. Most times it will be fun. Just remember to work hard, be kind to your friends, and keep your eye on the prize of a college degree.”

The address was very consistent with the goals of the Long Beach College Promise, a nationally-recognized model and partnership between CSULB, Long Beach City College (LBCC) and Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) to help local students earn degrees and certificates in preparation for rewarding lives and careers. Last year it also gained the support of the City of Long Beach mayor’s office.

The College Promise provides a free semester of tuition at LBCC, guaranteed admission to CSULB, early outreach, intensive support, and much more along the way. So far the results have been outstanding. Transfer rates for English are up 500 percent and math transfer rates are up 200 percent. In addition the number of CSULB students from LBCC and LBUSD continue to increase every year.

–Ken Swisher