EAOP/TRIO’s Comienza con un Sueño Celebrates 10 Year Mark

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Hands-on science exploration at UC San Diego’s Comienza con un Sueño’s STEM Fair.

Comienza con un Sueño (It Begins with a Dream) Family Day celebrated its 10th year of precollege support and inspiration with 1,200 middle and high school students and their families attending the informational conference on March 3 at UC San Diego. The annual college preparatory event is spearheaded by UC San Diego’s Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) and TRIO Outreach Programs.

EAOP is a UC-sponsored secondary school outreach program and TRIO Outreach Programs are academic preparation efforts funded by the US Department of Education. Launched at UC San Diego in 1976, EAOP works with local K-12 students, parents, school representatives and community members in San Diego and Imperial counties to strengthen student interest in and admission to college. TRIO Outreach Programs are targeted to low-income, first generation students who aspire to attend college immediately after high school graduation.

Regional schools and districts send hundreds of students to UC San Diego’s Comienza con un Sueño each year.

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Daniela Padilla, EAOP program coordinator, Victoria Vega, parent coordinator, Lemon Grove School District, and EAOP Director Rafael Hernandez at this year’s event.

EAOP Director Rafael Hernandez said the annual conference is a strong collaboration among several UC San Diego departments and programs committed to supporting local students’ pathways to college and career.

“We’re honored to work with our campus, school districts and community partners to offer this valuable college preparation opportunity to thousands of San Diego and Imperial county middle and high school students and families these past 10 years,” Hernandez said. “Each year, we look for new ways to inspire and empower students about their future. Comienza con un Sueño continues to be a great opportunity to reach students and families to show – and teach them how – their dreams of obtaining a college education and career can become a reality.”

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla opened this year’s conference with a warm welcome, encouraging students and families to take advantage of the workshops, resources and staff available throughout the day.

“We want your families to understand that the University of California campuses, UC San Diego in particular, are attainable options for your students,” Khosla said. “Imagine what a world-class education at the University of California would mean for your family, your community, and our nation….Do not be shy! We are here to answer as many of your questions as possible. Enjoy your visit to the University of California San Diego!”

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Comienza con un Sueño features informational workshops presented in English and Spanish to encourage Spanish-speaking parent involvement. This year’s program featured workshops on UC, CSU and community college admissions requirements, financial aid, college life, STEM fields, campus tours, resource and STEM fairs and career exploration. Spanish speaking parents had the opportunity to hear from parents who have already sent their students off to college at Parent-to-Parent workshops and received valuable insight about how to best support their children’s transition into college.

CREATE STEM Success Initiative STEM Fair

A highly interactive STEM Fair was the newest addition to the Comienza Family Day program. Organized by the CREATE STEM Success Initiative, the STEM Fair showcased UC San Diego undergraduate and graduate organizations and other on- and off-campus groups. Under the direction of Beto Vasquez, K-14 science outreach coordinator for the CREATE STEM Success Initiative, 24 tables of science and engineering activities were on display to engage and intrigue Comienza students and their families.  STEM Fair participants included UC San Diego’s Society for Women in Graduate Studies in Chemistry and Biochemistry (SWIGS), the Triton Racing Team/ Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) and its formula racing car, San Diego Science Project (housed in CREATE),  American Institute of Chemical Engineers at UCSD, Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (OSTEM), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) at UC San Diego and San Diego City College and the Westview High School Robotics Team.

UC San Diego graduate students from SWIGS share their love of science with Comienza attendees.

“A big shout out to UC San Diego undergraduate and graduate students and our STEM community friends who rallied together to provide this stimulating hands-on experience for visiting students,” said Vasquez. “Our students were so excited for the kids to come to campus and to explore the wide-range of interactive science and engineering projects at the STEM Fair. It was a very inspiring day for everyone.”

Humberto Gurmilan listens as Ruby Rios, a TRIO Upward Bound senior from San Diego High School’s Science and Technology School, accepts the college scholarship funded by Gurmilan.

UC San Diego TRIO Outreach Programs Scholarships

UC San Diego’s TRIO Outreach Programs students were awarded college scholarships at Comienza con un Sueño this year, thanks to two heartfelt donations from Comienza Planning Committee members. High School students participating in the UC San Diego TRIO Outreach Programs were encouraged to apply for the Humberto Gurmilan Scholarship and the Francisco Jose Parodi Scholarship. Ruby Rios, a TRIO Upward Bound senior from San Diego High School’s Science and Technology School, was awarded the Humberto Gurmilan Scholarship. Luis Godinez, a TRIO Upward Bound senior from Mar Vista High School, received the Francisco Jose Parodi Scholarship. Both scholarships were $500.

TRIO Director Carri Fierro was delighted to be able to award these scholarships to college-bound TRIO students at the event.

“The two scholarships align with our commitment to support low-income, first generation students who have overcome barriers and remained dedicated to their educational dreams,” Fierro said. “We’re honored our committee members have the inspiration in their hearts to generously support these students. It was exciting to present to these two amazing students at this year’s Comienza event and we look forward to continuing these financial awards for college going seniors at next year’s event.”

Luis Godinez, a TRIO Upward Bound senior from Mar Vista High School, received the Francisco Jose Parodi Scholarship, an award established by Cristina Parodi Araya (right), who founded the scholarship in honor of her son who died from cancer at age 19.

Thank you for your support

UC San Diego organizations, local school districts and affiliates supporting this year’s Comienza con un Sueño include EAOP and TRiO’s campus affiliations, the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE), Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, UC San Diego’s Undergraduate Admissions Office, Financial Aid, Hermanas Unidas de UCSD, Academic Connections, UCSD Housing, Dining & Hospitality, Undocumented Student Services Center, Lemon Grove School District, Sweetwater Union High School District, Vista Unified School District, and the San Diego County Office of Migrant Education.

If you’d like to attend next year’s event, or to become an event sponsor, please contact Daniela Padilla, EAOP program coordinator at dapadill@ucsd.edu.

UC San Diego’s EAOP and TRIO Outreach Programs are part of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE). EAOP currently serves 18 sites in San Diego and Imperial Counties, working with a mix of school sites and community centers. EAOP provides college advising, college and career exploration activities, online tutoring and SAT preparation to more than 4,000 students from historically disadvantaged and low socio-economic status populations. TRIO Outreach Programs houses five federal grants that serve students from Sweetwater, Chula Vista, Mar Vista, Southwest, San Diego, Lincoln, Hoover, Clairemont, Mission Bay, Mount Miguel, Monte Vista, El Cajon and Mountain Empire high schools. TRIO Outreach Programs provide free college-ready services such as academic advising, tutoring, workshops, field trips and summer academic programs.  Collectively, TRIO’s Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math/Science and Talent Search programs serve more than 875 students in 13 schools across San Diego County. TRIO’s goal is to prepare students to succeed in completing a rigorous high school coursework, successfully graduate high school and enroll in the college of their choice.