Summer Bridge '07

This is what has kept me from writing in my blog.

It is the Education Opportuniy Program Summer Bridge where we bring in 120 students who are first generation college studets, are members of an underepresented group or something like that.

I got a great group of 27 students. They all commute here everyday, some as far as Watts, getting up at 4 am in those cases to hop on buses & trains to get here by 8:30am. I've had very little absences and few tardies. This alone is impressive for students who had just been in high school hearing bells and dodging tardy cops.

Tommorrow is the last day of the program. Today was their final exam, pot luck and we watched "Idiocracy" by Mike Judge.

I will have them in the Fall semester which starts in about two weeks.

These 6 weeks were all warm up to being a college student. They just had one professor, all day in one room, one tutor per room, computer labs open just for them, they were fed every week after watching a film and discussing it, and sometimes they got more food on Wednesdays after pitching in $2 to learn about collective shopping. They basically had the campus to themselves. What happens to them after the first week of seeing the other 35,000 students will be the real test if their little community will keep together. I hope so.

They are all very bright and hopeful. They want to help each other succeed. I really hope they live this the next 4-6 yrs some may be here.


HispanicPundit said...

Good stuff. I am curious though, how do the majors of these students break down? I ask because I know that Northridge has a good engineering degree and I wonder how many of these future students are majoring in engineering?

LeeSee said...

Pachucoville: Just discovered your blog today, looks good. Good to hear youthful voices for difficult process of remaing true to self.
Hispanic pundit: While I can't speak to the experience of becoming an engineering student at CSUN, I can tell you it is very difficult here at SDSU.
Latino kids find the prerequisite classes nearly impossible to get through, it's not so much the math as it is the physics,it kicks their butts and they become discouraged.

HispanicPundit said...

Oh yeah, I can relate to that. I have taken courses at USC and UC San Diego (where I go now, trying to get my Masters in electrical engineering) and I can tell you that the workload and difficulty is overwhelming. I can see how the hardest courses (Physics, Probability, higher division Analog etc) can be especially challenging to students who come from an area with a horrible public school system.

It is depressing actually, because many of the students then choose much easier majors like political science, history, anthropology, and especially sociology [sic], and chicano studies [sic]. This results in a much lower immediate income level and unless they decide to go on to become a lawyer (something that would take many more years to see actual income results) these majors would do little to nothing to their future earnings.

My point here is that while the science and math majors (Chemical/electrical/mechanical engineering, mathematics, economics and others) are very difficult, they are also the majors that give you more bang for your buck. With only a bachelors degree in electrical engineering, in the first year you can easily make much more money than even your parents (as was my case). When you take this overwhelming change back to the hood with you (in a relatively short period of time - 4 or so years - many of your friends still have a strong connection with you), it can be a strong signal to other students to take school more seriously. There is nothing that motivates kids in the hood more than knowing they can live the 'ballah' lifestyle they have so long tried to imitate.

Just to give my life as one example, I am the first person in my family born in the United States and as such the role model to a lot of my family (brothers, sisters, cousins, etc) and because of my sudden life change (from Compton to engineer to comfortable lifestyle) many of my cousins and my little sister are now thinking of majoring in electrical engineering. Two of my cousins are already enrolled in an engineering program and I expect atleast a couple others to quickly follow as soon as they get out of high school. Given the fact that our family came here as (illegal) immigrants with no education (from el campo en Guerrero, Mexico) this is a surprising change.

In contrast, coming back to the hood with a bachelors degree in, say Chicano Studies, does nothing to ones income and seen from the outside, looks like a near failure to others in the hood. Aside from hearing more speeches on the 'evil white man', the student is just the same as when he left for school - not quite the motivator.

Of course this is a catch-22 since one of the primary reasons why there is such a lack of minorities in the sciences is because of our public schools. When you are trying to compete with some of the best mathematically inclined students in the nation any disadvantage could be disastrous and public schools in the ghetto are clearly at a disadvantage to public schools in middle and upper class neighborhoods. And so continues the cycle of poverty.

Sorry for going on a rant on this but this is a topic that greatly interests me and think deserves much more attention.

LeeSee said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response, you are preaching to the choir of course.
Trying to encourage ill prepared students to take a leap of faith into the unknown is a very dificult thing. They may not want to take the risk so therfor they settle for what they believe they can achieve.
All vey discouraging.

Pachuco 3000 said...

Aye hispic your rancho cred is mighty evident in your writing. All you seem to need is the simple things in life "un jale que paga, y que me hace sentir mas grande que los vecinos." Congratulations. Muy chingon.
Leesee, welcome to the -ville, thanks for stopping by.