Leaders from California State University, Northridge joined their colleagues from CSU campuses around the Golden State to promote the merits of a college education, during Super Sunday church services on Feb. 26.
Super Sunday is one of the culminating events for Black History Month. Since 2005, the CSU has partnered with California churches serving predominantly African-American congregations, to connect with black families, potential future college students and parents. CSUN Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students William Watkins spoke at Living Praise Worship Center in Chatsworth.
“We want them to understand that college is reachable and obtainable, and that the mission of the CSU system — certainly more than other educational systems in this state — has an objective of access and really is an affordable education,” Watkins said. “We at Cal State Northridge, like our other [CSU] institutions, care deeply about getting students to success.”
Farrell Webb, dean of CSUN’s College of Health and Human Development, also spoke at services at H.O.P.E.’s House Christian Ministries in Granada Hills. On Feb. 12, Deb Wallace, CSUN associate vice president of financial services, spoke at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Oxnard. The overarching goal for each speaker and the initiative as a whole is to encourage college preparation, enrollment and increase graduation rates of African-American students.
The churches opened their doors to the speakers to share messages about the importance of a college degree, for high school-age young people thinking about the next step, of which there were many in attendance.
“It was a rewarding experience to partner with Bethel AME and share in the responsibility of preparing students for college,” Wallace said. “I was also inspired when I heard stories from former CSUN graduates who are sharing the message about the CSU and its commitment to a quality education for all.”
Though he is in his first year at CSUN — he had spent the previous two years at California State University, Los Angeles, and 19 years before that at Kansas State University — Webb jumped at the chance to connect with the local community through the inviting and lively congregation at H.O.P.E.’s House.
“I felt welcomed and empowered by the congregation to tell of my own journey,” Webb said. “They were supportive and made me feel a part of their family. I was deeply impressed by what the church does for the Northridge community, from reaching out to our students for spiritual nourishing to actually providing food for our food pantry and nourishing their bodies. H.O.P.E.’s House lives up to its word!”
Watkins emphasized that it takes more than just the individual student’s will and drive to attain college success. When a young person reaches graduation, there are many people who have contributed to that accomplishment, he said.
“That really involves a partnership between families, supporting communities like church institutions — and the university to collectively support students in accomplishing their graduation goals and objectives,” Watkins said. “It really is that continuing message that this is the place, this is the goal, and we want to inspire young people to aspire to achieve those outcomes.”
For more information about CSUN’s student outreach programs or annual Super Sunday events, visit the campus’ Office of Student Outreach and Recruitment Services (SOARS).