Andriana Badillo

Campus Outreach Programs Awarded More Than $1.1 Million in Federal Grants

December 5, 2006

Gail Matsunaga

Approximately 600 area high school students are benefiting from academic, career and financial counseling through Cal State Fullerton’s Talent Search Program — which aims to increase the number of youths from disadvantaged backgrounds who complete high school and enroll in postsecondary education institutions.

“We want to get students thinking about the various opportunities that a college education provides,” said Adriana Badillo, program director.

Currently in its first year after an absence on campus, Talent Search will work with students from Anaheim, Katella, Magnolia and Savannah high schools. Based on each individual’s needs, the program provides one-on-one and group workshops, tutoring sessions and advisement covering such areas as study skills, long-range academic planning, career exploration, campus tours, cultural field trips, SAT preparation, applying for college and financial aid. Parents are encouraged to participate in workshops aimed at familiarizing them with postsecondary options and financing.

Talent Search is among several Cal State Fullerton programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education, which this year awarded more than $1.1 million to Talent Search, Upward Bound South, Student Support Services and Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement. The programs strive to facilitate and encourage students to pursue undergraduate and doctoral degrees, according to Silas Abrego, associate vice president for student affairs.

“These programs level the playing field for so many of our first-generation college students — many who come from schools that may not have had a college-going culture,” said Abrego. “The programs provide the tools required to successfully navigate and complete higher education. Equally important, they provide each student a support network comprising faculty, staff and friends that will last them a lifetime.”

On campus for more than 14 years, Upward Bound gives fundamental support to participants preparing to enter college, with a goal of increasing the rates at which students enroll in and graduate from postsecondary institutions. “We’re working with ninth- through 12th-grade students from high schools in the Santa Ana School District, focusing on such areas as academic instruction, college and career advising, tutoring, mentoring, cultural activities and exposure to university environments,” said Roberto Gonzalez, director of Upward Bound. “Currently, we’re serving 78 students.”

The Student Support Services program provides CSUF students opportunities for academic development, assistance with basic college requirements and endeavors to motivate them to successfully complete their undergraduate degrees. The 13-year-old program’s goal is to increase retention and graduation rates through such services as mentoring, academic and financial counseling, assistance with securing financial support and tutoring, says Lili Tautolo, director of the program. “Since the program began, over 500 students have been assisted by Student Support Services. The program maintains a 75 percent retention rate each year and has awarded more than $133,000 in financial aid grants to program participants.”

Currently in its seventh year, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program works to increase the number of graduate degrees earned by students from underrepresented groups. The program, under the direction of Gerald Bryant, offers participants opportunities in research and other scholarly activities.

“We serve 22 students annually, and since its beginnings on campus, 79 students have graduated from Cal State Fullerton and have enrolled in programs at such universities as Stanford, Columbia, Brown, New York University, USC, UCLA, University of Washington, Louisiana State, Georgetown, London School of Economics and CSUF — 12 students have gone directly into their Ph.D. programs,” says Bryant.

Adriana Badillo directs the university’s Talent Search Program, currently in its first year of a four-year grant. Benefiting approximately 600 students from Anaheim, Katella, Magnolia and Savannah high schools, the program aims to increase the number of youths from disadvantaged backgrounds who complete high school and enroll in postsecondary education institutions.