Speakers Inspire Future Spartans

Children attend the college day event

More than a hundred elementary, middle, and high school students from throughout Santa Clara County gathered at SJSU Sept. 27 for the College Day 2012 kickoff (Jessica Olthof photo).

More than a hundred elementary, middle, and high school students from throughout Santa Clara County gathered at SJSU Sept. 27 to hear from a variety of speakers about their college experiences, kicking off College Day 2012.

“By sharing the diverse education paths of some of our top leaders in the community with many first generation students, we hope to inspire them to design a path to college for themselves,” said Kim Guptill, College Day Chair.

Learn more about applying to SJSU.

Where Every Day is College Day

The crowd itself was an inspiration. Among the young people in attendance were over 30 Overfelt High School students, including 20 juniors, enrolled in their second year of calculus, a huge achievement for college-bound students, especially those from what is perceived to be a tough neighborhood.

“We like to say every day is College Day,” said Overfelt Principal Vito Chiala, noting that offering Calculus II on a high school campus where most students qualify for free and subsidized lunches shows that young people everywhere can achieve.

Overfelt Calculus II student Crystal Soto urged the crowd to accept help from teachers, as she did many years ago when a middle school instructor realized the “class clown” also had potential to become a “hardworking student.”

“She made me feel like a person rather than a student,” Crystal recalled. “She got me to want to go to college, and helped me come up with a plan.”

“The Future is in Your Hands”

Mark L. Walker, managing director, Global Community Affairs, Applied Materials Foundation, the event’s premier sponsor, shared with the young people in the crowd that like many of them, he was a first-generation college student.

“College really made me into who I am today,” he said. He urged students to get involved, recalling how “he learned all sorts of leadership skills” as a college newspaper business manager and fraternity president.

He reminded the crowd that Silicon Valley remains one of the best places in the world for a college graduate, with one percent unemployment in leading fields such as electrical engineering.

Walker recalled he started out in life dreaming of playing for the NFL, and then later deciding he would emulate TV lawyers before taking his first business class in college.

“The future is in your hands today,” he said. “Knowing what you want to do is probably less important than knowing that you want to go to college.”

“Achieving Something More”

Sam Liccardo, the San Jose council member representing downtown including SJSU, recalled that as a second-generation college student, “it was never a question in my mind that I would attend college.”

He went on to graduate from Georgetown University. But one of the greatest lessons he learned came from his grandfather, who dropped out of middle school.

When Sam came home with the news that he was admitted to Harvard Law School, his grandfather asked, “Sam, you’re not going to become one of those elites, are you?”

Sam explained to the young people in the crowd, many of whom would be first in their families to attend college, “you need to understand, you are achieving something more, not becoming something different.”

Liccardo went on to devote his life to public service, working as a prosecutor of sexual assault and child exploitation crimes in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office before running for public office.

“The Same Level of Success”

“Achieving something more, not becoming something different,” was also on the mind of Limbergh Arceo, the second Calculus II Overfelt student to address the crowd.

Although his childhood was challenging, his mother “always encouraged me” to do well in school. So he hit the books and even considered attending a college prep private high school.

But after taking summer classes at the private school, he decided to stick with Overfelt, which he argues offers even more rigorous academics.

He added he was dressed casually although he was a College Day kick-off speaker to bring home the point that it is not what you look like or where you are from that counts.

“We are just as smart as the other students, and can achieve the same level of success,” he said.

 

 

 

College Day Kick Off September 27

San Jose State Hosts Second Annual College Day Kick Off

Nothing inspires like appearances by Sammy and SJSU’s cheer team, both of whom attended this 2011 College Day event (photo courtesy of SJSU Division of Student Affairs)

School Districts, Businesses and Non-profits Join Countywide Effort to Promote College for All Students

Media Contact:
Kim Guptill, (408) 464-3642

SAN JOSE, Calif. – One hundred elementary, middle, and high school students from throughout Santa Clara County will gather at San Jose State University to kick off College Day, starting at 9 a.m. on September 27, on the lawn between Clark Hall and Tower Hall, near the Sculpture Garden featuring the sculpture of SJSU Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The youngsters will hear from a variety of speakers about their college experiences.

“By sharing the diverse education paths of some of our top leaders in the community with many first generation students, we hope to inspire them to design a path to college for themselves, whether they are fifth graders or are seniors in high school,” said Kim Guptill, College Day Chair.

College Day is a county-wide college-going effort on September 28, spearheaded by the volunteer-led First-Generation College Attainment Coalition. The goal of College Day is to create a college-going culture in Santa Clara County and help our children and youth plan and design their path to college. This happens when educators, youth workers, parents and other adults engage children in conversations, lessons, and other college-promoting activities. The September 27 kick-off will introduce College Day to the entire county. Learn more about applying to SJSU.

Sharing Their Stories

SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi will welcome the students, and share his path to college, followed by Mark L. Walker, managing director, Global Community Affairs, Applied Materials Foundation, the event’s premier sponsor. Other speakers include Dr. Xavier De La Torre, Santa Clara County Office of Education superintendent; Elaine Chin, dean, Connie L. Lurie College of Education at SJSU; Dave Cortese, Santa Clara County supervisor; Sam Liccardo, San Jose city councilmember; Overfelt High Schools students, and San Jose State University first-generation college students. NBC Bay Area News Reporter Damian Trujillo will serve as master of ceremonies. SJSU’s beloved mascot, Sammy Spartan, will make an appearance.

Across the day and throughout the valley, classrooms, hallways and doors will be decorated with college banners, educational posters and inspirational messages, encouraging students to aspire to go to college. Teachers will begin their day leading students in designing their college paths, and continue by creating College Corners in their classroom. Every student in Santa Clara County will be given a College Day sticker, and every classroom an “Every Day is College Day” poster.

College Day is sponsored by the Applied Materials Foundation, San Jose State University, Kids in Common, Downtown College Prep, Robert Grimm, Lynda Greene and Councilmember Sam Liccardo. Organizations and people who have collaborated to make College Day a reality include: Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), ALearn, Breakthrough Silicon Valley, College on Track, CommUniverCity, FIRST 5, Franklin McKinley Children’s Initiative, GoVoluntr, Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), Office of the Mayor (City of San Jose), Sacred Heart Community Services, San Jose Public Library, Santa Clara County Office of Education, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Summer Search, University of California Berkeley, Center for Educational Partnerships (Destination College Advising Corps) and University of California, Santa Cruz, Educational Partnership Center (San Jose Cal-SOAP).

Photo Opportunities

Photo opportunities for members of the media will include students asking questions of President Qayoumi and Overfelt High Schools students speaking.