By Alia Wilson
Staff, students, and community members in Santa Cruz are working together to take student recruitment for the university into their own hands by appointing recruiting facilitators.
The facilitators, known as Family Involvement Coordinators, aim to help parents prepare students for college in local areas that are not normally targeted by the university. Their efforts are part of a program known as Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), which aims to increase diversity at UC Santa Cruz.
"The university is limiting their search," said Franklin Williams, consultant for the Family Involvement Coordinator search and UCSC alumni. "They advertise on the internet. They’re not doing it face-to-face."
Facilitator duties include coordinating and implementing parent outreach services within the designated school district, providing parent and family advising on college preparation, and training parents to promote the option of college to their children.
Williams said that he is relying on UCSC students who come from the Monterey County area to help identify individuals who would be suitable facilitators. Despite efforts, Williams says it’s still a challenge to have people commit the time to physically go back to their communities and recruit.
"The program expanded so fast that the positions didn’t get filled," Williams said. "Now we have to fill those gaps."
Jose Reyes-Olivas, the College Nine and Ten co-curricular coordinator thinks that UCSC is not doing enough to encourage diversity.
"The university is very self-absorbed and has no idea how to connect with off-campus community members," said Olivas. "People like Franklin are actually doing it."
Fourth-year student Noemi Gonzalez, who interned with College Nine, felt especially inclined to become involved with GEAR UP because she was brought to the campus by similar recruiting programs.
"I’d like to help students like me, or not like me, who have come from places that make it harder to come to the university," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez believes that recruitment of students within the region would be more successful if it was a continuous process, which she thinks GEAR UP will provide. She says mentoring programs, tutoring, and other outreach efforts gave her the confidence to graduate high school and come to the university.
In addition to realizing the benefits of such programs, Gonzalez also felt that her father always supported her education. She did not hesitate to nominate her father, Reynaldo Gonzalez, for a coordinator position.
Reynaldo Gonzalez holds a B.A. in history from San Jose State and was the first male in his family to graduate from college. He believes that the best way to make college a tangible goal for middle and high school students is to set an example.
"I was concerned that if I didn’t finish college, my younger brothers and sisters wouldn’t go, and I knew that working in the fields was something that I did not want to do forever," Gonzalez said. "I look forward to working with students to persuade and convince them to go to college, to better themselves, and to reach their goals through education."Candidates for the positions are being filled in Watsonville, North Monterey County, Seaside, and Monterey. Interviews will continue next week and applications will be accepted until Nov.. 16th. Anyone interested in the positions should contact Franklin Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-662-2980.