“Wow!! No wonder every time we chat you are either getting in your car or driving…” wrote Susan Yonezawa, CREATE’s associate director and network coordinator for the CREATE STEM Success Initiative, in an email to Abeyta after reviewing his latest slate of campus outreach projects.
Abeyta is director of K-16 programs for UC San Diego’s Academic Connections pre-college program at Extension and has been an integral part of Year 1 start-up activities for the CREATE STEM Success Initiative (CSSI). This new campus initiative is a visionary collective effort linking UC San Diego faculty, staff and students and the San Diego education community in a shared effort to support K-20 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in the region. Launched by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla in July 2013, the CSSI supports core staff at the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) to work with campus and community partners to plug leaks in the local pipeline to STEM skills, degrees and jobs.
Abeyta has been at the forefront of local, regional and national K-16 campus outreach efforts and educational initiatives in STEAM (STEM plus the arts), charged with developing and delivering a broad range of pre-college support programming with a focus on diversity.
“As Director for Academic Connections at Extension, I’m working to build and cultivate a network with campus colleagues, community professionals, and organizations directly connected to enhancing the goals of K-16,” Abeyta said. “CREATE is an umbrella for many campus outreach efforts, research and K-20 STEM support. Under this umbrella is a dotted line to Extension, with its own outreach efforts and innovative programming, which are very much in line with CREATE and the new initiative, the Chancellor’s strategic plan goals and Extension’s. The partnership that exists between CREATE and Extension supports UC San Diego’s mission to deliver the highest quality K-16 academic programming efforts to regional education.”
“Ed and Extension have been vital to many of the first year successes of the CSSI initiative,” said Mica Pollock, CREATE director and Professor of Education Studies. “He has vast energy for innovating inclusive STEM education and outreach programs, from core academic coursework to extracurricular enrichment. Ed helps the whole campus deepen its community contributions.”
Collaboration between CREATE and Extension has produced significant results since CSSI work began last summer. For example, Abeyta and CSSI staff partnered in a project with the Weil Family Foundation to provide two Extension SAT prep course offerings and computer programming to Gompers Preparatory Academy, a UC San Diego partnership school deeply involved with CREATE outreach activities. The project also supports upkeep for three newly leased service vans enabling campus outreach activities to the region’s schools, secured from UC San Diego Student Affairs by the Center for Student Involvement. Extension and CREATE staff have worked together to spread the reach of scholarships enabling more low income students to attend Extension’s renowned Academic Connections summer program led by Abeyta. Extension is also collaborating with CREATE’s Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) in Imperial Valley by coordinating the logistics and transportation for Imperial Valley high school students to Extension’s Academic Connections program on the UC San Diego campus this summer. And finally, the CSSI and Extension are brainstorming ways to co-support the Jacobs Center Diamond District campus outreach initiative and thinking together on new college-level mathematics courses for high school students hoping to prep for college before admission.
Abeyta summed up several of the year’s successes: “After one year of providing SAT test prep classes at Gompers, the school has received funding from its foundation to run our courses year-round,” Abeyta said, adding, “and our ongoing engagement with the community has led to SDG&E sponsoring a five-week Full STE(+a)M Ahead program this summer, a joint effort between UC Diego Extension, Project New Village and the Diamond Leadership Group.”
Full STE(+a)M Ahead is a gateway project for the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. CREATE has forged related ties to Groundwork Chollas Creek, now working with CREATE’s San Diego Science Project. Teachers are also training in early literacy with the California Reading and Literature Project, also in CREATE and connected to schools and teachers within the Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership (DEEP).
In collaboration with CSSI staff, Abeyta is supporting the recently funded Price Scholars Math Program through Price Philanthropies. The new program provides crucial mathematics support to Price Philanthropies Scholars, community college students striving to pass required mathematics courses in order to complete an associate degree or transfer to a four-year university. The struggle to pass community college mathematics is an often-overlooked “leak” within the K-20 STEM pipeline and can be a major roadblock, if not college career ender, for community college students.
“I’m excited about existing and potential opportunities where Extension and CREATE can mutually support and strengthen each other,” Abeyta said. “It’s great to be a part of this new energy, and partnering in innovative ways to further support regional K-20 outreach and education.”
Photo of Abeyta courtesy of UC San Diego’s Chancellor’s Office archive.