Angelo Williams’ dad was a UC Davis graduate and Williams hoped that someday he would follow in his father’s footsteps.
Williams, 37, said that he eventually did make it to college after graduating from Crenshaw High in 1989, but not before seeing the people around him drop out of school or end up dead.
Now Williams is a graduate student pursuing his doctorate in education at California State University, Sacramento, but on top of that he is also a volunteer with the Road to College Tour program.
The Road to College Tour is a $1.6 million collaboration between the California State University system and telecommunications company AT’amp;T that seeks to encourage high school graduates from low-income areas to pursue higher education possibilities.
In the program, a fleet of buses equipped with wireless Internet connections and 20 laptops tour various high schools in California and instruct seniors on how to apply to CSU schools.
‘I am volunteering because I want to do what somebody did for me,’ said Williams. ‘We go out to high schools and talk to students’hellip;We do what can (to) be called on-site counseling.’
Williams also spoke about the difficulty students from less privileged neighborhoods encounter after graduating from high school.
‘Sometimes they just look at the computer and just give up. This may be the opportunity to get students acclimated to the digital process,’ he said.
Still in its trial stages, the four-year-old program has helped more than a thousand students in schools like Sacramento’s Valley High and Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles apply for college, said Erik Fallis, the spokesperson for California State University.
AT’amp;T spokesperson H. Gordon Diamond described in an e-mail statement his firm’s task in the program’s success.
‘Our main role was providing funding for the four-year effort and also helping with the technology aspect,’ wrote Diamond.’ He went on to explain AT’amp;T’s focus on education in their philanthropic endeavors, describing the bus tour as the firm’s ‘most significant education initiative to date and one of the largest corporate commitments ever to address high school success and workforce readiness.’
Currently, the program extends to CSU campuses at San Marcos, Los Angeles, Bakersfield and East Bay.
The buses have yet to arrive on CSUN’s doorstep, although the campus offers a similar alternative in the First Step program through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).
The First Step program sends university representatives to various high schools and work with counselors to allow potential candidates to become ‘student for a day,’ and for a first hand glimpse at college life, on conditions that the candidates are first-generation Americans and from low-income households.
Fallis said that the results of the AT’amp;T trial will go on to determine whether the program will be expanded to other CSU campuses.
Volunteers like Williams hope the success of such programs might soon be realized.
‘Education is freedom, wherever your community is, we need to get more folks involved,’ said Williams. ‘Each one teach one’hellip;This generation is one of the most creative and inventive ever, and I am proud to be a part of it.’
More information about the recruiting program is available at http://www.calstate.edu/roadtocollege.