The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSU, churches help prep blacks for college

Cal State University officials reached out to dozens of churches during the outreach event Super Sunday to ensure African-American students are informed of and prepared for admission requirements so they can succeed in higher education.

CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, along with several university presidents and other campus representatives, spent a Sunday morning in February going to about 50 churches throughout Northern and Southern California. CSUN President Jolene Koester and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs William Watkins were among the participants.

One church that has played an instrumental role in Super Sunday from the beginning is West Angeles Cathedral. Bishop Charles Blake, a West Angeles pastor, organized a town hall meeting with Reed and others from the community to create a program designed to bridge the gap between African-American students and the attainment of higher education. The meeting resulted in the California African-American initiative and Super Sunday.

Deacon John Wilson, who serves as the director of the education and enrichment ministry at West Angeles, welcomed the meetings with the CSU officials.

“I said that would be great because I have some questions that I would like to ask the presidents when they come here,” Wilson said.

“When they came, my questions were trying to expose the red tape of how kids get lost in the system and that’s when the CSU system came to me and fixed all the current problems, but also showed me how to prevent it from happening in the future and that has been very valuable,” Wilson said. “After that is when our applications and admissions skyrocketed.”

Wilson, whose role is a combination of high school, college and career counselor, uses Super Sunday as a supplement to his ongoing education program.

“We were getting CSU kids before, but we are probably getting a higher percentage now because of Super Sunday. I use it as a recruitment tool for 10th and 11th graders, so by the time they become seniors they already know about CSUs.”

Many of the students in Wilson’s program come from homes in which their parents did not go to college.

“That’s the thing about CSU Super Sunday. Having adults hearing about educational alternatives can only help children in the long run,” said Wilson.

An interesting thing Wilson noticed at Super Sunday was that there were many adults visiting the information booth after service.

“When we have it here at our church, adults are filling out cards, looking to restart their education. That’s why we think next year we need to have some sort of outreach program for adults who want to go back to college,” Wilson said.

The First Church of God is another participant in Super Sunday.

Feager Pertilla, director of education, worked closely with CSU representatives Barbara Young and Jorge Haynes while preparing for the big day.

“We met with the Chancellor’s Office many times and they were continuously letting us know what the process was and how to get the information to the congregation and specifically the youth,” said Pertilla.

“When you look at the African-American community, one of the most viable sources is the church, so to get to the youth and get education promoted through the church is a very, very good idea,” said Pertilla.

Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz, along with a few students and faculty members, attended Pertilla’s church and sat through two worship services.

Pertilla said, “You are important enough to us so we set aside this time to come to you so that you know that we really want you to be a part of what we are doing and you can have a quality education.”

Pertilla asked that any CSU alumnus stand during Ortiz’s speech, calling for them to join in the outreach process by mentoring young people.

“I was a principal for 33 years and I think that every opportunity as African-Americans that we can hone is better for our community, our self esteem, and better for our long range productivity of our community. Once you start the task and complete it, it only empowers you and your community as well as the generation behind you,” said Pertilla.

Many churches have established programs that not only assist youth spiritually but also academically, by offering tutoring, SAT preparation, a mentorship program, parent advocacy training, scholarship opportunities and assisting students in completing college applications and the filing of their financial aid. Because the application process can be difficult at times, Wilson has “students do their applications right here in front of us because it is so easy to make a mistake.”

Not only is there is evidence that the goals of Super Sunday, which is in its third year, are being accomplished after CSU campuses saw a 6.5 percent increase of African-American enrollment during the fall 2007 semester, there is also evidence of the success of the in-house services being provided at the churches.

“We just had five kids graduate last year from Northridge who were in our program. They were able to get it done in the four years and a lot of them would tell you it’s because of the support they got here in the program,” said Wilson.

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