When Matthew Rodrigues grows up, he wants to attend college to become a nurse or a doctor.
“I think going to college is very important in life,” said Rodrigues, a sixth-grade student at Jefferson Elementary School in Dinuba.
Friday morning, Rodrigues and 1,600 other sixth-graders got a taste of what it will take to achieve their career goals at Reedley College’s second annual Central Valley Promise event.
Tour of Reedley College Campus
To promote the mindset of going to college among students, teachers from Kings Canyon, Cutler-Orosi, and Dinuba Unified school districts took them on a tour of Reedley College.
Rodrigues said the tour was very helpful.
“Now I know what to expect when I go to college,” he said. “I know what I will have to do.”
Getting college on the brain is the main goal of the event, said Donna Berry, the president of Reedley College.
“We are really trying to create a college-going culture,” Berry said. “It really begins when you are in the sixth grade to start thinking about college.”
Getting students excited about college is critical as the state is projected to fall about 1.1 million college graduates short of economic demand if current trends persist, according to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Vincent Vargas said he is definitely thinking about college. In fact, he already knows his major — zoology.
“I want to be a zoologist so I want to study something about animals,” Vargas said.
Lena Gutierrez said she wants to become a teacher.
“I decided to participate in the tour because I want to see how college is and what it looks like inside the classrooms,” Gutierrez said.
Getting Students Interested In College
Gutierrez’s teacher, Brad Johnson, said he hopes touring the Reedley campus will get his students interested in going to college.
“It is a great opportunity for our students to get exposure to higher education,” Johnson said. “I think the earlier they get exposure, the more attainable it is.”
Lisa Waide hopes the tour will give her students a better idea of the available educational opportunities.
“Some of our kids don’t have the means to go to college so I hope they come away with a hope that they can do something,” Waide said.
Central Valley Promise
The other goal of the event is to get students familiar with Central Valley Promise, a community effort to guarantee a path to college for students in the region.
The Central Valley is joining 150 cities across the country offering College Promise programs, which aim to increase college readiness, affordability, and success.
The CVP ensures students free tuition for their first semester of community college and priority registration, said Kurt Piland, the director of college relations and outreach at Reedley College.
Piland said CVP restricts its funding to colleges within the State Center Community College District.
To qualify, students must graduate from high school with at least a 2.7 GPA.
To stay in the program while in college, students must enroll in 15 units per semester and maintain a 2.5 GPA or above.
Piland said he has 100 students in the first cohort, and expects more in the years to come.
“The numbers are definitely growing,” Piland said. “As students know more about what Reedley College offers and the opportunities that they have, I am hoping that we will get a lot more enrollments.”