Establishing A College Connection

by Brianne Martin '13

On January 26, the Office of Multi-Ethnic Programs (MEP) held the 10th annual Connections, an event that introduces underrepresented high school students and first-generation college students to the college experience.

Students and their families had the opportunity to spend a day on campus with Azusa Pacific students, faculty, and staff. Focused on this year’s theme, “Dream and Achieve,” Connections offered informational panels and workshops to the 400 guests, which included students and their families. Panels covered topics such as financial aid and scholarships, studying abroad, student organizations, and academic departments. Families also toured campus; heard stories of current APU students; and were entertained by performances from Gospel Choir, the step team, and the poetry slam team.

“The event was amazing and the feedback we got was that it was better than what guests imagined,” said Aaron Hinojosa, MEP director. “We had a good mix of attendees, including students who have already applied to APU, and sophomores, juniors, and even seniors who were checking out APU for the first time. The day’s events gave students a vision of possibilities for their future.”

The first Connections event took place in 2003 and since then, its goal has been to help students develop a vision for their future—one that includes higher education. Connections is a resource for students who may be the first in their family to attend college, and seeks to show them the support available on campus to help them navigate their college experience.

“The feedback I heard from students was, ‘I feel like you guys care and I learned so much,’” said Echelle Avelar, graduate assistant and MEP programming coordinator. “These high school students took the time to learn about APU and I know they were impacted.” That impact left students with the knowledge that receiving higher education is not out of reach—attending college is an achievable dream.