This spring, Santa Clara’s halls and gardens were filled with a different kind of student than the usual 18-to-22-year-olds that rule the grounds. Exploring the campus and learning about different SCU programs 90 fifth graders, accompanied by 45 of their parents, got a taste of what their futures could hold.
For the second year in a row, Washington Elementary’s Family Engagement Day took place at Santa Clara University. Hosted by the Ignatian Center’s Thriving Neighbors Initiative, the Leavey School of Business’ Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI), and the San Jose Rotary Club, this day on campus gave young students in an underserved community the chance to interact with current undergraduate students and campus entities.
Welcomed by University President Father Engh, students started their day with a tour of the learning commons and library, a dorm room, and the Leavey School of Business where they got to interact with NPI undergraduates and tour NPI’s Map Room. “So many entities on campus collaborated to make this day happen for these students,” said Brenda Versteeg, director of professional development and social justice at the Leavey School of Business. “It’s great to see how many people in the community are dedicated to helping these kids experience college life and get excited about future possibilities.”
The afternoon held an outdoor fair showcasing different schools and activities on campus. Undergraduate students manned tables for majors and student groups; Bucky took photos with the young students while undergraduate athletes talked about athletics programs; a raffle filled with SCU swag was open for any student who visited at least 4 of the academic stations.
“We really wanted to create a fun day for these kids. In a community where only a small margin of students go to college, we wanted to show them what is possible if they are dedicated,” said Irene Cermeño, program director of the Ignatian Center’s Thriving Neighbors Initiative. “It’s really amazing the difference we made in one day. These students came to Santa Clara saying ‘I want to go to college,’ but they left saying ‘I am going to go to college.’”