We Are the Champions

by Sean Fitzpatrick '04

A group of fourth-grade students from elementary schools in the Azusa Unified School District jumped up and down, bursting with excitement at the College Headed and Mighty Proud (C.H.A.M.P.) graduation, a celebration commemorating their completion of the C.H.A.M.P. Program.

The C.H.A.M.P. Program exists as a partnership between APU and the Azusa Unified School District. Student volunteers guide fourth-grade students from local elementary schools through lessons designed to encourage students to attend college. These activities include games, career books that give fourth-grade students ideas for jobs that utilize their talents, and stories about college told by APU students.

Each APU student, called a C.H.A.M.P. buddy, leads a small team of students. Once a week the C.H.A.M.P. buddies visit their teams in their classroom, a time that the fourth-graders look forward to the whole week.

Throughout the 10-week program, the C.H.A.M.P. buddies and the fourth-graders form a lasting friendship with one another. For one of the meetings, the elementary school students come to APU to visit their C.H.A.M.P. buddies and take a tour of the campus, enabling them to see college classrooms and dormitories.

C.H.A.M.P. graduation, held December 3 in APU's Felix Event Center gives students a chance to feel special and reminds them of their college goals. Students and their C.H.A.M.P. buddies dress nicely for the occasion. After a short speech from President Jon R. Wallace, DBA, and keynote speaker, Paul Caligiuri, a former professional soccer player who played on the U.S. National Team and the Los Angeles Galaxy, teachers introduced each fourth grader and their occupational aspirations.

C.H.A.M.P. graduation marks an exciting time for the fourth graders as they are forever changed and have a renewed aspiration to someday attend college.