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College Connections exposes students to c0llege campus
Posted March 1, 2006

Alexandra Lozano
Staff Writer

College Connections was organized by the University of La Verne Honors program. A one-month program during January interterm, it is designed to inform more than 100 fourth and fifth graders in the Azusa Unified School District about college.

“We take honor students from ULV to Azusa school district,” said David Duong, president of the Honors program and junior business administration major. “We teach GATE students in areas of science, art and math.”

This year the University students met with youngsters at Dalton Elementary where they taught for three consecutive Saturdays. The location of the program changes each year.

Students in the Gifted And Talented Education program receive enriching activities that they might not receive during a regular school day. These include hands-on projects that teachers don’t have time for, said Carren Acevedo, the GATE and AVID coordinator for the school district.

“The kids rotate through three sessions a day,” Acevedo said

These mini-lessons vary from year to year.

"This year we had science, art and a science/math group,” Acevedo said.

On the last Saturday, the students are invited to the University campus to receive a campus tour and showcase their work to their parents.

“For some of them, it’s the first time stepping on a college campus,” Acevedo said. For some parents this is also their first visit to a college campus. “We want parents to think, ‘My child can do this. My child can go to college.’”

ULV students put together their lesson plans before they visit the GATE students.

More than 100 elementary students participated in this year’s event.

“We always have a huge proportion of kids that come back in fifth grade,” Acevedo said. “We try to limit it to 100. The parents know that each year there will be a lottery.”

“It’s really exciting,” said Duong, who has participated in this program for two years. “It’s a lot more fun than it sounds because you get to hang out with kids. These are smart kids.”

Duong said he thinks this is one of the best programs on campus.

“No stress, no homework, just have fun with kids,” he said.

Acevedo also teaches the service learning CORE class for the Honors students at the University.

“We look at the difference between service learning and community service,” Acevedo said.

Parents of the GATE students are also involved.

“The parents love it, the parents are very supportive,” Acevedo said. “I just think it’s a worthwhile program. Everybody benefits: the college students and the GATE students.”

College Connections is a chance for Honors program students to give back, Duong said.

 “It’s a really great community outreach experience,” said Andrea Labinger, professor of Spanish and director of the University Honors Program. Labinger notes that the large Latino population reflects those of the La Verne community. “There are children who are smart and talented but whose parents aren’t that wealthy.”

Alexandra Lozano can be reached at