CSU Dominguez Hills Partners With ShareFest and LAUSD to Encourage College and Leadership Aspirations in Urban Teens
For many teens in the South Bay, summer vacation means family excursions, time on the beach, or possibly a temporary job. For many more of them, attempts to fill the idle hours end up in gang activity and drug abuse.
To provide better summer options for youth at risk, California State University, Dominguez Hills recently partnered with the Los Angeles-based nonprofit ShareFest and the Los Angeles Unified School District to hold the second annual Youth Development Academy (YDA). The four-week program, which took place on the Carson campus throughout the month of July, provided an opportunity for young people to participate in positive activities that instill good learning habits, leadership qualities, and an ambition to go to college.
“Every university should encourage the educational growth of youth by exposing them to a college environment,” says David Gamboa, director of Government and Community Relations. “As a committed community leader we partner with various organizations such as ShareFest to provide opportunities for students who are motivated to go to college to interact with our talented faculty and staff.”
Jeremiah Dobruck, ShareFest public relations, says that the YDA gives young people an opportunity to explore options they may not have thought possible.
“Many of these students have never been on a college campus before,” he says. “Some haven't even considered college. Exposing them to it... gives them a chance to start working toward that goal. Windy Warren, the assistant principal of Banning High School in Wilmington, summed up what we do. She said she's seen so many students who come from low-income or minority families forced to fight a stereotype that tells them that no matter how hard they work, they can't succeed. At the YDA, we're showing students just how much of a lie that stereotype is.”
During the YDA, students learned about health, nutrition, character building, decision-making, self-awareness and leadership through activities that included sports, theatre, art, reading, and other educational activities designed to show the many options that exist beyond the self-destructive and high-risk activities that are widely available in their communities.
Jose Sanchez, a freshman at Banning, says that he signed up for the YDA in its inaugural year. He participated this summer because of the efforts of the counselors, whose dedication to the program inspired him to take action and organize a clean-up project in his own neighborhood.
“Most of the streets are very dirty. Some of my friends and I went out there and started cleaning,” he says.
Sanchez, who hopes to become an engineer, says that he looks forward to helping clean up his community and assisting the homeless as he achieves his professional goals.
“With the money I [make], I want to help the community,” he says. “When you do something good for the community, you get this warm feeling inside of you.”
- Joanie Harmon