CASLR Events Galore

By Fatima Elali

A fresh new year is here, and I am filled with a new perspective on life that is advantageous to my current graduate assistantship in the Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research (CASLR).  It is a blessing to be able to supervise and mentor eight undergraduate student workers, known as Service-Learning Advocates or SLAs. In particular, I get to support them while they coordinate and plan events that are making a difference in our local communities. In fact, we are partnering with more than seventy Service-Learning courses this spring and some of these exciting events/programs are highlighted below.    

Options is a six week program that encourages the learning of essential life and business skills to students in nearby continuation high schools. APU students enrolled in Organization and Administrative Behavior (BUSI 448) work with students once a week and facilitate lessons on various skills such as of budgeting, interviewing, ethics, and managing personal bank accounts. The APU students work in small groups and utilize interactive activities to teach each module.  For example, the budgeting module will review the value of budgeting, how to create a budget, the difference between needs and wants when spending, and how credit cards work.  The high school students will use monopoly money to conduct financial transactions as part of the hands-on activity. This module is one demonstration of how Options has a positive impact on high school students’ lives. These life skills are tools that can assist them in achieving their goals today and in their near futures. For example, they can use their interviewing skills to increase their chances of getting the job they desire and spend their money in an effective way. 

The CHAMP program continues to encourage fourth graders to pursue higher education.  It is a wonderful initiative to focus on this age group, especially since some of these fourth graders will be the first in their families to pursue a bachelor’s degree. I am a first generation college student and can relate to the common struggles that these fourth graders may face, such as a lack of knowledge in applying for college, the various careers that can be pursued, and college being a place for co-curricular learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Three CHAMP schools will take part in a guided tour of APU’s campus on March 6th, 18th, and 25th. In addition, their graduation ceremony will take place on April 16th in the Felix Event Center where we will celebrate their completion of the CHAMP program. 

In desiring to continue supporting the belief that college is achievable, CASLR will host its third 8th Grade Majors Fair on February 27th in the North Recreational Center at Memorial Park in Azusa, CA. Eighth graders from all three Azusa Unified Middle Schools will attend this educational event that will showcase numerous majors like Business, Biology, Engineering, Recording Arts, and Psychology through the use of interactive displays that allow the eighth graders to interact with various elements of a particular major.  For example, the History station will have various props that the eighth graders can take pictures with; the Nursing station will offer free blood pressure checks; and the Music station will have a floor piano used to teach students about pitch.  Through these interactive and informative displays, eighth graders will be able to learn about the variety of majors they can pursue in college.  

This semester, in pursuit of increasing awareness about brain health, CASLR will collaborate with the Biology department to host two Brain Awareness Fairs on February 20th and 21st  at Slauson Middle School and Foothill Middle School.  APU Service-Learning students will present information to seventh graders about neurobiology and create an awareness of brain health.  They will learn about the brain’s role in creating our senses, the impact of alcohol and drugs on brain health, and much more.  Similarly, APU’s very own Brain Awareness Week offers two lectures and informational booths during the week of April 7th-11th to achieve the same awareness, but with the college student population. 

By and large events and programs like Options, 8th Grade Majors Fair, CHAMP, and the Brain Awareness Fairs influence and shape K-12 students’ thoughts about college being a possibility in their futures.  A student may see how passionate the college students are about their field of study at the 8th grade Majors Fair and learn that college is a place where they can achieve their professional aspirations and grow in a holistic manner.  Another student may be reassured by a CHAMP mentor that he or she is capable of accomplishing his/her dreams.  It is programs/events like these that promote access to higher education that make all the difference.  Upon reflecting on this and CASLR’s mission, K-12 outreach efforts may be a new pursuit in my future career as a student affairs professional. It really is something that could be my new found niche. 


                    Fatima is a graduate assistant serving at the Center for Academic Service-Learning & Research serving as the 2013-2014 Coordinator for Student Professional Development. She is working towards her Master’s of Science in College Counseling and Student Development.