The sounds of high school students fidgeting with empty water bottles filled the Anatol Center Tuesday afternoon. Their hands wrinkled blank application papers as they listened to a handful of university students and faculty explain the importance of attending college.
College Bridge: An Ethnic Studies Exchange was hosted at Cal State Long Beach in the Anatol Center to introduce high school students to college life.
Founders of the event are Emily Berquist, a history professor at the university and her former student Ana Orozco, who is now an ethnic studies teacher at Lynwood high.
“We came up with the idea that we should do an event where we get our students together,” Berquist said. “They get to meet each other and try to have a more engaged discussion.”
Orozco brought 50 of her ethnic studies students to attend the day-long event.
The high school students attended Berquist’s history class, took a tour of the campus and heard from various presenters.
Students attended a workshop that was geared toward the basics of college life. Art Medina, advisor of the Educational Opportunity Program, spoke to the group about the fundamentals of the application process. He encouraged students to not let barriers stand in the way of applying to any California State University.
“Use your resources,” Medina said to the group. “We want you here.”
Academic skill coaches from TRiO Student Support Services, Brenda Lopez and Helen Walker also led a tutorial on how to fill out applications for Federal Student Aid and scholarships.
Current university students offered their advice, shared stories and promoted the resources they found helpful on campus. Justin Hatchett, president of the EOP Student Organization and business management junior shared the story of his journey to college and some of the opportunities that his organization provides.
“It doesn’t matter where I come from, it matters where I’m going,” Hatchett said. “It’s going to be hard, but overcoming [challenges] and utilizing different organizations on campus can help your success.”
Anai Sanchez, a history and Chicano and Latino studies senior, spoke to the younger crowd about the Latinx student life on campus. Sanchez is a board member for La Raza Student Association.
“[La Raza] has definitely helped me make connections in school,” Sanchez said. “It’s helped me because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
She said she hopes to participate in an outreach like this once every semester with different high schools.
Berquist said she plans to have the College Bridge become an annual event to get in touch with prospective students.
“We want to show that college is accessible,” Berquist said. “They can come here and succeed.”