CSUN Helps LAUSD Set PACE for College, Community Connections

  • A group of LAUSD PACE members came to California State University, Northridge to learn about resources available to college-bound students. File photo by Luis Garcia.

  • A group of LAUSD PACE members came to California State University, Northridge to learn about resources available to college-bound students. Photo submitted by the CSUN Office of Community Engagement.

California State University, Northridge’s commitment to students begins long before enrollment. Realizing that many CSUN students are the first in their family to attend college, university officials work with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and other community partners to assist families in preparing their children for academic success.

On Nov. 15, CSUN welcomed the LAUSD Local District Northwest’s Parent and Community Engagement Unit (PACE), a group of about 150 appointed parent community educators, to an informational event at the University Student Union Grand Salon called “Connect. Shine. Rise.” The event introduced PACE members to CSUN and its educational opportunities, student services and resources. The PACE members could then take this information back to parents at their home campuses, said interim Director of Community Engagement Jeanine M. Mingé, whose office sponsored the event.

PACE members work with the parents of students from local K-12 schools, providing tools and information for families to assist and support their students’ education, and promoting a culture of literacy and high expectations at home and school. Members participate in school events and on committees, and they serve in school parent centers, which provide resources to engage parents in student success, such as offering classes and workshops on topics including college readiness, intellectual/cognitive development and helping kids with homework.

Efforts to prepare students for college have taken on a greater urgency in California, which could face a shortfall of more than 1 million college-educated individuals in the state workforce by 2030, according to studies by the Public Policy Institute of California.

“College preparation starts in kindergarten,” said Dean of Humanities Elizabeth Say. “We want to help prepare those students so they can have careers that are rich and rewarding.”

Attendees heard presentations by CSUN groups that can help students thrive in their college career academically, financially and in extracurricular activities. These included Student Outreach and Recruitment (SOAR), Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), the Matador Involvement Center, Unified We Serve, the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing, the Institute for Sustainability, and the Financial Aid and Scholarship Department.

A tabling session allowed attendees to further investigate topics such as “What It Means to Be a CSUN Student,” financial aid and scholarships, summer programs, community involvement, and student health and counseling. Student ambassadors and the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing also led group campus tours.

LAUSD education officials who attended included Joseph Nacorda, interim superintendent of Local District Northwest, and LAUSD board members Scott Schmerelson (District 3), Nick Melvoin (District 4) and Kelly Gonez (District 6). Nacorda, Schmerelson and Gonez were among the speakers at the event. Nacorda called the CSUN event an opportunity to ask the right questions about the college experience and to provide students, teachers and families with access to valuable information.

“This is a great opportunity for parent center directors to take a deeper dive into the resources available in our backyard,” Gonez said.

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