Local Boys & Girls Clubs Practice College Preparedness by Visiting UC Santa Barbara

Burton Middle School members were happy to be spending their day at UCSB.

Last month, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias (BGCS) took 21 middle school members to visit UC Santa Barbara. It is BGCS’s goal to prepare their members for a positive adulthood by exposing them to opportunities they may not have considered possible. At the Club, members are encouraged to explore all their options when it comes to post-secondary education.

College preparedness is part of the mission at BGCS, which is to enable all young people, especially those who need them most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible individuals. College preparedness is also a component of their three priority outcomes, which are academic success, good character & citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.

Area Director Cinthia Ibarra coordinated this educational trip to UC Santa Barbara. Ibarra herself is a UCSB alumna who had a very positive experience at the university and as a result, is extremely passionate about higher education. She decided to take members to UCSB specifically because she believes that it is impactful for kids to see the campus through the eyes of an enthusiastic alumna. Ibarra was also motivated to take members to UCSB because of its educational rigor and competitive admission process. Her goal is to encourage members to strive for a high level of academic excellence now, so that in the future they have a better chance of being accepted into any post-secondary school or program of their choice.

In order to visit UCSB, members in 6th-8th grade from Burton Middle School and Summit Charter Interim Academy were prompted to submit a write-up explaining why they would like to visit the University. Site Directors then chose 21 members based on their responses. Those members were then required to research five facts about the university and prepare five questions that they were to ask while on the trip.

While touring UCSB, members were challenged to complete a scavenger hunt with their groups, which encouraged members to engage with the campus and participate in educational activities. The group explored the majority of the campus during their visit. Members were particularly intrigued by Manzanita Village, UCSB’s newest residence Hall, as they had a lot of questions about dorms, roommates, and the cost of room & board. After their tour, members wrote reflections regarding their trip and edited a video capturing their UCSB experience.

In a video interview, SCIA member Jose Diaz said,  “I think that this trip to UCSB will benefit me in the future because it gives me a better image of what it will be like if I go to a university and prepare me for it. Also, I have learned more about what is out there career-wise.”

It is Cinthia Ibarra’s goal to motivate members to pursue higher education by sharing her positive university experience. She said, “Attending a university is more than just academics, it’s about broadening your horizons, becoming aware of different people from different socio-economic groups, and establishing your own identity, perhaps for the first time in your life. I want them to learn that all this is available to them, but also that they’re not entitled to it—a lot of hard work goes into achieving the goals that they’ve established for themselves.”

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