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San Benito
April 18, 2024

Migrant students tour NorCal colleges

Courtesy of San Benito High School:

Last week, the Migrant Education Department led 30 San Benito High School juniors on a journey to some of Northern California’s dynamic universities. The enthusiastic students were accompanied by SBHS Migrant Education Program Recruiter Claudia Mendoza and teachers Heather Nichols and Ryan Shorey.

The first stop was Stanford University, where Shorey shared stories of competing as a track athlete in college as the group gazed at Memorial Stadium while waiting for the tour.

“The beautiful church and courtyard provided a calm, historically inspired atmosphere for us to begin our day,” Nichols said, noting that the students and s through the Bay Area traffic to arrive at Stanford’s long-time rival, the University of California Berkeley.

At Cal, students were able to experience their first college dining hall experience.

“The hungry students were excited about the ability to choose their food likings and servings, although the biggest hit was the soft-serve ice cream,” Nichols said.

In order to provide students with knowledge and interaction from U.C. Berkeley students of similar cultural background, the group participated in a student panel with four representatives from the university’s Raíces Recruitment and Retention Center’s, whose goal is to increase the enrollment of Latinx/Xicanx high school students in institutions of higher education by sending them on recruitment trips and outreaches to high schools, middle schools, and community colleges.

“t was inspiring to see the college students open up about their experiences, such as explaining how it was to move far from home or how they struggled before finding their community on campus,” Nichols said. “At this point, our students were warming up in their ability to ask questions and take full advantage of their college tour experience.”

Nestled east of Oakland in the suburban community of Moraga, the next stop was Saint Mary’s University.

“Our students with experiences in the Catholic church felt an appreciation for the buildings and core values of the school,” Nichols said. “One value our tour guide explained was the university’s commitment to give back to one’s community. As her major in college was accounting, she participated in a service learning, volunteer program of providing free tax services to families in need. Hosting only 3,700 students, this intimate experience well suited our students who prefer the small community atmosphere.”

Exhausted yet inspired from the full day, the group headed off to Sonoma to sleep before the next day’s tours of Sonoma State University and University of California, Davis. The group set off to the wooded campus of Sonoma State, where Baler dance teacher Nichols and track coach Shorey attended.

“The uplifting atmosphere of the campus and local alumni resonated strongly with the student group, marking it as a favorite,” Nichols said.

Yazmin Morales, a student who plans to study nursing in her postsecondary education, reflected on this stop by saying “it was hard to say goodbye” to the campus when the tour ended.

The final destination of the college tour was the bicycle-friendly, college town-feeling U.C. Davis. Students were pleasantly surprised to hear of the encouraging transfer admission student requirements, as many plan to study at community colleges first, Nichols said.

Naomi Virgen, who plans to study genetic counseling, felt right at home at this campus. Many students in the group expressed an interest in biology, and were happy to hear that U.C. Davis ranks fourth in the field of biological and agricultural engineering. The university’s art galleries and craft workshops were a hit with future art educators Paola Aguilar and Isabel Munoz.

On the ride back to San Benito County, Nichols said students were disappointed that the trip was ending, adding, “We’d rather stay longer for more” college visits.

“It was rewarding to see our students represent our core values of scholarship, teamwork, and opportunity as they all took full advantage of this college tour experience,” Nichols said. “Their exciting futures await and we look forward to seeing their accomplishments as they achieve their postsecondary dreams.”

The students will be delivering a presentation on their experience at the Migrant Parent Advisory Council meeting on March 20th, at 7 p.m. in the Cafeteria.