Nearly 200 fourth through sixth graders from five elementary schools converged at California State University, Stanislaus on Wednesday for a “College Awareness Field Trip” to officially kick off a partnership between the
City of Turlock’s Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Department and the University.
According to After School Program coordinator Maribel Soares, the joint venture originated from a conversation shared by her and Athletics Academic Advisor Raichelle Grays.
“I was interning for the Athletics Academic Center last summer when Raichelle revealed that she wanted to partner with elementary school students to raise awareness of college while focusing on college athletes,” said Soares. “She provided the vision and we provided the students.”
“We wanted to get involved with the community and elementary school students, because they tend to get left out,” said Grays. “There used to be a disconnect between the campus and the community and so we just wanted to do something to bridge that gap.”
During the event, students in the city’s after school programs got a chance to visit the local University and learn about all the benefits of college before they even start high school.
“Our goal is to provide students with an awareness to opportunities that exist in college—both in academic and athletic avenues,” said Recreation Supervisor Karen Packwood.
To give elementary students an idea of what to expect in college, Grays enlisted the help of collegiate athletes, including a myriad of basketball players, cheerleaders, and volleyball players.
“This allows elementary students to actually see what student athletes do on a day-to-day basis,” said Grays.
Kinesiology major and basketball player Clint Tremelling described the dedication that is required to be an athlete at the university level and revealed to students that he wants to become a physical education teacher upon graduation.
When it comes to advice, Tremelling kept it simple.
“Do your homework and listen to your parents,” said Tremelling.
Tremelling was joined by Spanish major and cheerleader Ruth Gomez, who explained to students that cheerleading is an intricate mixture of fun and hard work. Referring to her own personal success story in college, Gomez advised students to find something that they loved to do as well.
“Whatever you do, make sure you love it and you give it your all,” said Gomez.
Students were also given a “College 101” presentation by Grays, who told students about the different types of colleges and how to prepare for college beginning today.
“There is nothing wrong with thinking about college right now,” said Grays. “Right now is a good time for you to start preparing for college by learning how to study, save money, and get the best grades you can.”
Overall, Grays emphasized the ability that college has to teach skills that they need to get the job they want, whether they want to be an engineer, Spanish teacher, doctor, or even the President.
“We at least wanted to bring them to our campus and introduce them to college and gets the conversation going about intercollegiate sports,” said Grays. “This is just as much their campus as it is ours.”
Also during the event, elementary students were challenged to build character and life skills, explored the campus, and visited a sports team practice. All students who participated on Wednesday were also given a chance to receive tickets to a future home game.