December 24, 2003

First Person Account

State Cuts to Outreach Would Affect College Preparation of Low-Income Students

When everyone else around you doubts your success it is hard to keep focus towards higher education. This is why it is necessary to oppose Governor Schwartzenegger’s proposed budget cuts to the University of California’s Outreach Programs and to budgets cuts to outreach at California State University campuses. These programs provide essential college preparation to approximately 110,000 low-income youngsters throughout the state.

Coming from a working class Latino community where college-going rates are often below the norm, one often finds it hard to receive the necessary academic assistance and motivation. Many families in these neighborhoods are working hard to merely pay rent and feed their children. Their priorities do not consist of getting good SAT scores or passing the AP calculus test. As a student in this type of community it is hard to strive for higher education when nobody else around you is motivating you to succeed. Programs like the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) conducted by the University of California actually made the effort to come to my high school and inform me about important information that I would not have known otherwise. They offered test prep workshops that I otherwise would not have been able to afford. I had an Academic Mentor who would come every other week to check on my progress. That may not seem like much, but it actually is especially when it seems as though nobody else around you cares if you even graduate high school. Without outreach I don’t know if I would have had the same knowledge or motivation to go to college. In order to stay competitive with other high schools it is important to have outreach programs that help low-income schools where resources are minimal.

I am now an undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego and I have since had the privilege to work with EAOP, and I see the difference my program makes in the low-income communities of San Diego. The EAOP program that I help coordinate offers tutoring and mentoring services to kids living in Section 8 housing, which is comprised mostly of newly immigrated families who have little resources at their schools. We offer schoolchildren in these families hope and guidance. We give them a chance to dream and succeed when they feel hopeless about going to college. I have had many students say that they don’t feel like they are “cut out” for college. With the destruction of outreach programs like EAOP will come many devastated students who may never get the chance to go to college.

Ana Madero
San Diego

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