Held this year at Castle Park High School in San Diego’s South Bay, Achieve UC is a University of California system-wide initiative that offers essential academic and financial information to help students, especially those from low-income schools and districts, learn about UC and consider a UC application.

Teams from CREATE’s professional development and student outreach programs all participated in a daylong event on Nov. 7 to inform high school students how they can attain a University of California education.

Coverage of Achieve UC is featured in This Week @UC San Diego, and includes details on CREATE’s direct college prep support activities.

CREATE housed Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP), San Diego Area Writing Project, and CREATE staff and students, along with representatives from campus Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Affairs were part of this year’s program.

Organized by Rafael Hernandez, director of EAOP, Achieve UC featured a range of college preparation support activities, including presentations and workshops by CREATE and Admissions colleagues on college access, applying for college, writing a personal statement, and financial aid information.

EAOP staff members Mario Aguilar and Ryan Fernandez were on hand to answer questions about college entrance requirements, while UC San Diego Muir College Provost John Moore provided information about the new UC San Diego College Academic Mentoring Program (CAMP). CAMP supports specially trained UC San Diego students into local high schools to assist in one-on-one academic advising and college preparation mentoring to students, with special consideration for first generation college applicants. CAMP is a collaborative effort between Muir College and EAOP and is available to students at Castle Park High, Clairemont High, Gompers Preparatory Academy, San Diego High School, and King Chavez Academy.

“I wanted to be sure that this program reached Castle Park and the Sweetwater district,” said Provost Moore, who lives in the area.

CREATE’s San Diego Area Writing Project teacher consultants Divona Roy and Holly Bauer, with help from UC San Diego student Indira Esparza and Program Manager Carol Schrammel, worked with 60 high school seniors to revise their personal statement for the college admission essay.

“The students had time to determine the most effective techniques, details and structure of a successful college essay by learning to engage readers and develop ideas,” Schrammel noted.

UC San Diego’s Dr. Skip Pomeroy, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and a long-time supporter and alumnus of Castle Park High School, provided a lively demonstration on bio diesel with Sweetwater Union High School District high school science teacher Robert Manroe and a very enthusiastic group of Castle Park High School students.

“Science preparation has to begin long before college,” said Dr. Pomeroy. “When I was here at Castle Park I was inspired by a teacher very much like Mr. Manroe.”

Inspired by faculty like Skip Pomeroy, CREATE is working through the CREATE STEM Success Initiative to help dozens of UC San Diego faculty invest their time, attention and talents through NSF- and NIH- funded outreach components at schools serving underrepresented student populations.

At the event, UC San Diego Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Juan González addressed the school assembly. González, a first-generation college student himself, shared how he was inspired and encouraged to consider attending college while participating in Upward Bound, a U.S. Department of Education college-prep program. Upward Bound is currently available through UC San Diego’s TRIO program (also housed within CREATE) and accessible to students at select high schools throughout the region.

Dialogue facilitated by CREATE Associate Director Susan Yonezawa, between Vice Chancellor González and teachers and counselors from Castle Park, addressed a host of precollege preparation issues, ranging from math preparation to rigorous English. Teachers agreed that more dialogue between university faculty and San Diego high school teachers and counselors on the expectations of a UC classroom would assist students throughout the region to better prepare and eventually achieve a UC education.