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USF Sows Seeds for Diversity


CARES middle school and high school students take a tour of USF, part of a daylong symposium put on by Epsilon Beta Boule and hosted by USF to introduce students from under-resourced backgrounds to university life and support and scholarships available to them.

The University of San Francisco recently welcomed about 90 under-resourced middle and high school students to campus from around the Bay Area in its ongoing effort to expand higher education opportunities for students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Already ranked among the nation’s 30 most diverse universities, USF hosted the event Nov. 6, in part, to show students who might not consider USF or college in general that advising support and financial resources are available to them, said Margaret Higgins, USF assistant to the president for special projects.

“These students don’t have the typical resources that many USF students do,” said Higgins. “This is USF trying to respond to a sense of obligation to these students by providing information and motivation about how to get into college and for pursuing higher education.”

The fact is that these students are highly desirable to universities and colleges such as USF that are interested in promoting campus diversity, Higgins said.

The students, many of them minorities enrolled in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Concord, including a number who had never been on a college campus, took part in a daylong symposium at USF put on by Epsilon Beta Boule, part the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.

The fraternity is a made up of more than 5,000 African American professional and civic leaders nationwide dedicated to promoting and mentoring young men such as those from Mt. Diablo’s Collaborative for Academics, Recreation and Enrichment for Students (CARES) After School Program.

Epsilon Beta Boule, which put on the event – dubbed Visions of Success – for CARES students for the past three years, brought in prominent African American professionals to speak to students about how they achieved professional success. Among the speakers were the chief operating officer of UPS, a top eye surgeon at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a real estate mogul, and a USF trustee and professors.

“We’re planting seeds for how to be successful in life, aside from trying to be like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, which is rare,” said Tracy Porter, a small business owner and entrepreneur who serves as current president of Epsilon Beta Boule. “The key to being successful in life is obtaining higher education.”

CARES students were given a tour of USF, including student housing, attended workshops in which Boule members and invited guests discussed how they attained professional success and overcame obstacles, learned about the role of nutrition, sleep, and exercise in overall wellness, and heard USF admissions experts outline what is required to be accepted into USF and what scholarships they might secure.

“Visions of Success taught me to study even more on weekends, to work harder, and that education is key,” said Isaac Gomez, an eighth grader at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point who is involved in CARES. “I also learned that even though I want to be a professional soccer player, I must have a degree as a back-up in case I don’t make it.”

That’s exactly the response that Terri Porter, the Mt. Diablo after school programs coordinator has come to expect from students who attend the Boule’s symposium. “Hearing the history of how these men from Eplison Beta Boule got their start and seeing where they are now gives them hope,” Porter said. “It also let's them know that with education, good values, and a strong sense of self the world is open to them.”

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu