Campus: CSU, Northridge -- January 12, 2001

Pacoima Fourth Graders to Receive
Scholarships in CSUN Special Ceremony

More than 180 fourth graders from Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in Pacoima, who spent a day last semester as CSUN students, will return to the campus on Wednesday, Jan. 31, for a special ceremony honoring their efforts to get ready for college.

At that time, each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the university's Department of Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

The ceremony is the culmination of the "I'm Going to College" project, sponsored by the university and Chela Financial, to encourage children to plan for a college education, both academically and financially.

The scholarship awards ceremony will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in CSUN's Performing Arts Center near the center of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St.

To cash in their scholarship, the students eventually will have to be admitted to CSUN and its EOP program and show a need for the scholarship, said Marco De La Garza, assistant director of counseling in the university's Financial Aid Office.

"This establishes an incentive for these students to seek higher education at an early age," De La Garza said.

The students spent weeks last fall exploring basic college information, such as what is college, what are its benefits, financial aid and how to prepare for college and careers.

Their knowledge was put to the test on Nov. 1, when the students visited the campus and spent the day as CSUN students. They registered, visited the university's Financial Aid Office and then, armed with dictionaries and backpacks provided by the project sponsors, spent the rest of the day visiting research and engineering labs and touring the campus.

The "I'm Going to College" project focuses on elementary school students in hopes of increasing the number of low-income students and students of color in higher education. Studies have shown that the average child begins to develop a commitment to education and an interest in what they want to be when they grow up around 11 or 12 years of age.

The project was piloted at Edenvale Elementary School in San Jose, Calif., in the fall of 1990. Over the past 10 years, similar early college awareness programs have been implemented across the country. Cal State Northridge has been working diligently to increase college awareness among local middle and high school students.

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