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CSU Super Saturday College Fair: A Day of Fun, Learning and Discovery

Two girls

Members of the Making Choices Mentoring Program of Carson were greeted by CSU African American Initiative consultant Barbara Young as they arrived to the Super Saturday event.

Approximately 1,400 students, parents and mentors learned how to prepare and apply to campuses of the California State University system during the CSU Super Saturday College Fair on Aug. 21.

Organized by the CSU Chancellor's Office African American initiative and hosted at California State University, Dominguez Hills, the multicultural event was free to middle and high school students and their parents or accompanying adults.

Groups and Families

Students came in groups of five to 20 members led by school or community mentors, or as a family, often including both parents, younger siblings, nieces and nephews.

Bobbi McDaniel, director of the Upward Bound program at Los Angeles Valley College, led a group of 20 seniors from the San Fernando Valley who are enrolled at Grant High School and Van Nuys High School. “Our students are 95 percent Latino,” she said. “They are preparing to go to college and have scored 1390 or better in the SAT.”

Chino Hills’ residents Patrick Chung and wife Rebecca were there with their children, Vickie, 16, Calvin, 13, and Ariel, 3 years old. “We want to learn how to apply for college here,” Rebecca said. We went to college in another country and don’t know the system here very well.”  They learned about the event while navigating a CSU website.

Veronica Wheatley led a group of eight female students, ages 12 to 18, who attend several schools in Los Angeles County but all belong to the Making Choices Mentoring Program in Carson.

Rob McGowan and wife Emilee of Torrance came with their three children. They heard about the fair from daughter Kayla who attends the Making Choices Mentoring Program.

Sisters Liz Solis and Judith Melendrez attended with five children. They learned about the college fair through a flyer delivered at Rubidoux High School in Riverside.

How Much Will It Cost?

At workshops families learned about preparing academically for college, financial aid options, CSU application periods, and how to navigate CSUMentor, the website that helps students plan for college and apply to the CSU.

Going through their minds were such questions as: Could our family really afford college? Some were pleasantly surprised. CSU campuses are among the most affordable in the nation. For 2010-11, the average cost, including campus fees, will be approximately $5,100 per year. If the student desires to live on campus, the total would increase by the cost of food and lodging.

Participants heard that most families are eligible for financial aid, coming in several forms: scholarships, federal and state grants, and work-study programs on campus.  Students also have the option to take loans that they will pay back after graduation.


A student with a raised hand.

Manual Arts High School senior Rene Zuzuarregui (Center) participated with his parents, Rene and Guadalupe.

Words of Advice for Student Success

At a standing-room-only plenary session in the University Theater, attendees were greeted by Congresswoman Diane Watson, City of Carson Mayor Jim Dear, CSU Dominguez Hills President Mildred García, and CSU Vice Chancellors Garrett Ashley and Benjamin Quillian.

Congresswoman Watson encouraged students to take advantage of the many college opportunities available to them. “It is a privilege to live in a country that offers many college opportunities and financial aid to pay for college even during the hardest economic times,” she said.

“I remember my college days as the best time in my life,” she said. Proudly, she told the students that she attended Los Angeles City College, earned a B.A. in education at UCLA, an M.A. in psychology from Cal State L.A. and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the Claremont Graduate School.

The Rev. Sherman Gordon of the New Philadelphia A.M.E. Church of Carson, delivered a motivational keynote address that highlighted character traits, positive choices and values that will serve students well during their careers.

“You must wake up every day in a positive note, Pastor Gordon said.  “Yesterday is gone! You can do nothing to change it.”

“Stand up! Stand for what you believe in and that which you will not compromise,” he said.

CSU Summer Algebra Institute class of 2009 visits a CSU campus.

Attendees at CSUDH University Theater during inspirational speeches by Congresswoman Diane Watson and the Rev. Sherman Gordon of the New Philadelphia A.M.E. Church.

The Rules of Engagement

At the workshops the advice was even more specific.

While teaching how to apply to CSU campuses on CSU Mentor, Marjani Chidinma, a representative from Cal State L.A., told students to clean their online persona before sending their applications or information requests to college officials.

“If your e-mail address starts with SEXYCANDY22, you are not going to be taken too seriously. Use a professional e-mail address.”

Students also were told that when visiting or doing college interviews they should dress properly for the location and occasion: “No skin tight dresses; no cleavage; no micro shorts.”

One-on-One with College Officers

College officers from 13 CSU campuses were available in booths sporting the colors, logos, merchandise and brochures of each institution. They had one-on-one conversations with participants about majors available at their campus and student experiences that are unique to each CSU campus.

Right before leaving the event, students dressed up in caps and gowns to get their picture taken. On the spot, they were able to share by e-mail the digital version with friends and family. They also received hard copies to take home as a very special souvenir from the college fair where they got to learn everything about how to become a CSU student.

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