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Migrant students introduced to college life

By Frank X. Moraga


Building multidimensional shapes out of plastic tubing and using Mentos and soda to propel race cars.

While at first glance the exercises seem like children’s play, for high school students at CSU Channel Islands the exercises this month are a serious part in learning about advanced concepts of mathematics and physics.

It’s also a fun way to interact with nearly 100 other members of the first Migrant Summer Leadership Institute (MSLI) at the university.

Through Aug. 10, students are developing their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills, learn what it is like to study and live at a university and consider higher education as a serious option.

“The university, starting with our president, wanted to make sure we provide opportunities to support our migrant population,” said Damien Pena, associate vice president for Student Affairs/Dean of Students at CSU Channel Islands. “I know that we’re committed to a college-going culture in Ventura County and this is one more way we can do it.”

For the past 10 years, UCLA has hosted a Migrant Scholars Leadership Institute. However, the California Department of Education added the STEM component for this year and sent the program out to bid.

CSU Channel Islands and CSU Sacramento won the bids this year for the program, Pena said.

The 98 students attending the program come from 13 migrant education regions throughout the state. A total of seven students are from Ventura County, said Breana Christie, director of University Outreach and associate director of Student Life at the university.

“I know Ventura County is one of the bigger migrant programs in the state,” she said. “This is really cool to be exposed to college life prior to becoming a college student.”

During the program, students are learning about STEM career paths, doing research and writing and taking a one-credit college-level class (UNIV 100 University Life and Culture), Christie said. The students are broken up into four different groups or tracks of 25 (Yellow, Blue, Green and Red), will spend a full day of learning and have computer time to finish their projects.

Some of their classes include…

(Feature Photo: Carlos Orozco demonstrates a bit of engineering skill during the Migrant Summer Leadership Institute (MSLI) being held through Aug. 10 at CSU Channel Islands. After an orientation for parents, high school students take part in a series of programs designed to prepare them for college life. Photo courtesy of CSU Channel Islands.)

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