Harambee Conference Connects Students to CSUN

Dwayne Cantrell speaks to students

Dwayne Cantrell, director of student outreach and recruitment services at CSUN, speaks to a group of students at the Harambee High School Conference. Photo by Nestor Garcia.

Nearly 400 mostly African-American high school students visited California State University, Northridge on Feb. 28 as part of the Harambee High School Conference’s efforts to expose and encourage young people to attend college.

The students — from 16 high schools from throughout California including Northridge Academy, Van Nuys, Antelope Valley, Bakersfield and Inglewood — were invited to campus by the Harambee Student Association and the CSUN Office of Student Outreach and Recruitment Services.

“This program came into existence because we wanted to make sure students like you were supported and encouraged,” said William Watkins ’74 (Urban Studies), CSUN’s vice president of student affairs, who welcomed those in attendance. “We want you to be successful and provide the tools to make that possible.”

James Henry

James Henry ’91 (Afro-American Studies), M.A. ’94 (Educational Policy/Leadership and African-American Studies) an academic advisor in CSUN’s resource center and vice president of the Black Alumni Association facilitates a student panel discussion. Photo by Nestor Garcia.

After the welcome, the students took part in workshops where they were able to ask a panel of current students and alumni about their college experiences. Among the questions posed: Why did you choose to attend CSUN? How are you able to pay for college? What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

“CSUN was not my first choice, but after I got here I realized it was the best choice,” said Tabitha Sanchez, a communications studies major and student panelists. “I love the diversity and all of the activities on campus.”

Sanchez, who is in her second year at CSUN and a resident adviser in the dorms, said the Harambee event is “great” because it helps high school students connect to CSUN “ethnically, culturally and scholastically” through meeting current students and alumni.

Teri Owen, a college counselor at Taft Charter High School who has brought students to the conference for the last three years, said the event is “great exposure to CSUN” and to the students.

“It gives students motivation,” Owen said. “ It makes them look at themselves differently.”