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Spring break for 70 UC Berkeley undergrads means recruiting college students from Southern California
22 Mar 2000

By Tamara Keith, Public Affairs

BERKELEY -- While some students are heading to the Bahamas, Key West or Las Vegas for spring break, a group of undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, will spend their vacation helping Southern California teenagers set their sights on college.

On Friday, 70 UC Berkeley students from three campus recruitment and retention centers will pile into about 20 cars and embark on an ambitious trip. Their itinerary includes visiting some 100 high schools, most of them in the Los Angeles area, but others in the Central Valley and San Diego.

These students don't seem to mind giving up their March 27-31 spring break to do outreach.

"It's a lot of work, and it's a lot of sacrifice," said Guillermo Torres, a UC Berkeley sophomore, "but it's for a really good reason."

The students have been preparing for this trip for months - contacting high schools, convincing administrators to let them hold assemblies, working with teachers. The recruitment groups - Raza Recruitment and Retention Center, Pilipino Academic Student Services, and REACH!, which targets South East Asians and Pacific Islanders - chose Southern California schools with mostly minority and low-income student populations.

The UC Berkeley students will give presentations about the fundamentals of college admission, including SAT scores, class requirements and the admissions essay. The idea is to find students who may not be considering college and give them the tools they'd need to get accepted.

These recruiters don't just talk about UC Berkeley. They tell students about all their options: the other UC campuses, the California State University system, and community colleges.

"The main purpose is to try to motivate the students and show them that they can do it," said Torres, coordinator for Raza Recruitment and Retention Center. "Sometimes those kids don't know about college. They don't know what the requirements are. A lot of these students don't even know that they have to take the SAT."

Many of these UC Berkeley students will return to their high schools on this trip. For second year student Cindy Sangalang, it will be her first time back to Long Beach Polytechnic High School. She said that when she was in high school she noticed some students were taught about college while others were not. She sees this outreach trip as an opportunity to help fix that inequity.

"I felt so frustrated," said Sangalang, high school outreach coordinator for Pilipino Academic Student Services. "I wanted to do something in college that would help contribute, to change things. I feel like this has enabled me to do that in a way."

Frank Lozier is UC Berkeley's community projects coordinator. A staff member, he oversees the recruitment and retention centers on campus and will be going on the Southern California trip. The community work these students are doing is important, he said.

"They're learning about issues for themselves, first hand," said Lozier. "You can sit here and take an education class or you can take an ethnic studies class, but when you go out and do community work, you learn so much more. The real world is a classroom, an important classroom."


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