For most high school students, a typical visit to a college campus might consist of a tour around the dorms or sitting in on a boring lecture. It’s not every day that you get to learn about decolonizing your self-care or hear keynote speakers talk about their careers at NASA.
On March 29, nearly 200 students from high schools in Humboldt and Del Norte County were able to participate in a day of educational workshops centered on unity and decolonization on Educational Empowerment Day at Humboldt State University (HSU).
“I feel that the students that showed up were empowered to be who they are and represent their culture,”
“Empowerment Day provides a healing space and helps combat culture shock,” said Julian Salinas, HSU junior, who helped organize the event. “It expands their horizons and inspires POC students to go to college.”
Organized by MEChA, TRiO and the Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence, the annual event was put together to expose local high school students to the college experience with a focus on both academic and intersectional workshops.
The day of events featured keynote speakers Priscilla Baltezar and David Lagomasino on behalf of the University of Maryland and various programs at NASA. Some high school students felt that simply being exposed to the college experience and professional careers of others inspired them to continue working hard.
“I enjoyed our first workshop which was to expose what college is like,” said Consuelo Padilla, a senior at McKinleyville High School. “The NASA scientists inspired me to always try hard, even if the subject is not my best.”
Other students were excited to learn more about how to prepare and get to college through the various workshops about SAT and transcript preparation.
“It is really nice to hear the resources and to find out how to go to college,” said Jackie Garcia, a sophomore at Arcata High School.
Many felt that the event was a success in exposing high school students to both academic workshops and resources to college access.
“Even if they don’t decide to go to HSU,” said Sierra Farmer, a team member of the campus TRiO Talent Search. “Just that experience of coming to college early when you’re in high school to visit can spark that interest.”
Throughout the day, high school students were also able to participate in a series of different themed workshops facilitated by HSU students. One of the workshops was titled “Healing and Activism through Poetry,” organized by Maritza Galvan an HSU junior.
“[The students] were pretty into it so it was a really great experience,” Galvan said. “I shared one of my poems with them but I also gave them an outline. They filled it in and read it outloud if they wanted to. Some of them let me keep theirs.”
Other students were able to participate in workshops centered around subjects that they might not otherwise learn about in their regular classroom, such as feminist symbols like La Virgen de Guadalupe.
“I wanted to focus on showing the students feminism and patriarchy within the Chicano/Chicana culture,” said Alicia Bautista, an HSU freshman. “There were some boys who showed up to the workshop. They were actually really into it. They wanted to learn from each other.”
For some, the event seemed to be a success and the culturally relevant workshops provided a well rounded campus experience for the visiting high school students.
“I feel that the students that showed up were empowered to be who they are and represent their culture,” said Rose Sita Francia, the campus TRiO Talent Search Director. “I’m impressed with the workshop content, and the planning that went into the students being prepared to do the workshop was deliberate and thought out. Our high school students got to see college students in action.”