Social Work Major is First to Graduate from Cal State L.A.’s High School-to-College ProgramLos Angeles, CA – Wendy Quijano (Los Angeles-90044 resident) is the first to admit that a little encouragement goes a long way. As the first graduate of Cal State L.A.’s 2+4+Career program, Quijano says she never would have considered going to a four-year university if it hadn’t been for the support and encouragement she received through the program. “I had the perception it would be really hard [for me] to attend a university, but by taking classes at Cal State L.A. during high school, I was able to see that I could meet the challenge,” says Quijano, a social work major.
The 2+4+Career program, funded by the Printing Industry Association of Southern California, allows high school students to take university-level graphic communications courses at Cal State L.A. during their last two years of high school, and familiarizes them with the university environment while transitioning them into a four-year university. Approximately 70 percent of the students who begin the 2+4+Career program in high school choose to attend Cal State L.A. Students who go on to attend CSULA are encouraged to participate in internship programs with industry partners, and have the opportunity to begin employment with a company during their senior year. Although the emphasis of the 2+4+Career program is on graphic communications, students can select the major of their choice.
Benjamin Lee, professor of graphic communications at Cal State L.A., began the 2+4+Career program in 1999 with John Santos, teacher of the Inner City Graphic Communications Academy at Manual Arts High School in central Los Angeles. Lee is the Electronic Document Systems Foundation’s 2002 Educator of the Year. “Most students in the program are from low-income families, and may not have thought about going to college,” says Lee. “We work with the high school students, pay for their tuition and arrange their transportation to Cal State L.A.”
Quijano said the support she received was invaluable. “At our first university class we were really nervous, but Professor Lee was very supportive.” Quijano started out in the graphic communications program, but eventually leaned toward social work. “My parents were foster parents, so I saw social workers come into our house and I knew I wanted to do what they did,” she explains. “Now I’m the first in my family to graduate from college, and they’re very proud.”
Quijano has been participating in an internship with the Children’s Bureau of Los Angeles Foster Care Adoption Agency, supervising visits between biological parents and their children, handling cases and facilitating women’s support groups and parenting groups. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work this June at Cal State L.A., she plans to work for an agency and then enroll in a Master in Social Work program.
Quijano says that if she hadn’t participated in the 2+4+C Program, she would not have believed she could succeed at a four-year university. “The program made us see that we should push ourselves and ask for more. It gave us the chance to support each other, and made the transition to a university much easier.”
Benjamin Lee, (323) 343-4572
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