Celebrating Bright Futures

by Jody Godoy '05

On Saturday April 9, 2005, dozens of local elementary and middle school students returned to APU with their families for the first annual College Headed and Mighty Proud (C.H.A.M.P.) alumni picnic. The students had previously participated in the C.H.A.M.P. Program, which offers local fourth graders a chance to visit the university campus and connect with APU student mentors. Alumni of the program from 2002-05 and their families enjoyed an afternoon of food, fun, and preparation for the future.

"The idea of the picnic is to build community and prepare Azusa youth for higher education," said Kristin Deal, C.H.A.M.P. coordinator. "It is our hope that the relationships formed each semester between the mentors and students are mutually beneficial and give both groups new understanding and excitement for what the future holds."

Throughout the afternoon, C.H.A.M.P. mentors hosted games, face-painting, and a bounce house. Mentor Kara Thorndike '05 enjoyed meeting familiar faces from events earlier in the semester. Thorndike got involved in C.H.A.M.P. through her class on diversity in the classroom. As a future educator, she said the program was important because "kids need to know what they can do with their future, and become familiar with the idea of college at a young age."

C.H.A.M.P. alumna Hope Hines said that she liked the program because it gave her books and helped her realize she wants to become a police officer. Senovia Martinez, a local parent accompanying Hines said that she felt "the program helped direct the children's future." The C.H.A.M.P. picnic also helped equip parents for the future, with a workshop on college admissions, financial aid, and student life, conducted in English and Spanish.

"This is wonderful, opening the university to the community," said Marcial C. Jorge, a local parent and substitute teacher, who is also a member of the Azusa Unified School District's Superintendent's Parent Roundtable. "It was helpful to hear in the workshop that financial aid is available for everyone, both rich and poor, and that it is best to go and apply. This definitely opens up college opportunities," said Jorge. "I have a college degree, and I expect my children to go to college as well. The C.H.A.M.P. Program has been an enlightenment for them."

For more information on the C.H.A.M.P. Program, contact the Center for Academic Service Learning and Research at (626) 815-6000, Ext. 2827.