Public Affairs

Opening Doors to College

Nov. 29, 2012
By Elizabeth Chapin

After graduating from high school, Kiara Cummings knew she wanted to go to college—she just wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to happen. As a high school grad unsure about her future, Cummings attended a church service that she says opened the doors to college. Now a CSU Dominguez Hills student set to graduate this May, she says that her academic success all started that day at a Super Sunday service.

Kiara Cummings (second from right) on a field trip with students she helped tutor at the Summer Algebra InstituteSuper Sunday”—a program to connect with and inform students and their families about what it takes to get into college—is a product of Chancellor Reed’s creation of partnerships between the CSU and African American churches throughout California.

On Sundays each February, CSU leaders speak at these churches—sharing information about preparing for college, applying to a CSU, and financial aid. The events now take place in more than 100 churches, and this year reached more than 100,000 parishioners.

Reed has been a champion of the CSU’s African American Initiative, which also includes educational and outreach events such as the Super Saturday College Fair and Summer Algebra institutes. They all work toward the goal of providing information and inspiration to increase the pool of African-American students attending a four-year university.

Cummings’ story illustrates the successful outcome of the programs. She says the CSU’s information and workshops available to her at Glory Christian Fellowship International Church helped her navigate the path to a bachelor’s degree.

“Super Sunday helped lead me in the right direction and inspired me to go to college,” Cummings said. “It made me realize it was attainable. For my future and my family’s, I knew it was imperative to earn a bachelor’s degree. The hard work would pay off.”

Cummings always knew she wanted to work with kids. Now, with a degree in child development, she plans on opening her own daycare center.

Currently, she is combining that passion with her education and experience to give back to students at her church. In her spare time, she’s mentoring and tutoring them so that they can succeed in their current schoolwork. Cummings says she knows that makes college a more attainable goal.

“I struggled in school too, just like some of them do,” Cummings said. “I always tell them that anything is possible. If you put your mind to it and focus, you can achieve anything you want.”