About ATS

ATS Staff

Scarlet Maurin

Program Manager
Lynda Nakamura

Lead Program Assistant
Stefan Schoy

Program Assistant II
Rose Browne
Irene Diaz

Office Coordinator
Omie Hartman


Jose Aguilar
Cayla Cooks
Kestley Dietrich
Diego Gallardo
Mwengu Siwiti Jr.
Gavin Veiga

Program Overview

Academic Talent Search (ATS) provides fun but challenging courses to 4th through 9th grade students on the Sacramento State campus. Through ATS, academically advanced students have the opportunity to explore subjects they love in a fast-paced, supportive environment while gaining a preview of the “college” experience.

The intent of the program is not to make students grow up too fast or to help them to graduate early, but rather to allow them to work at their level of ability in their academic areas of strength, regardless of age or grade level.

While sponsored by Sac State’s College of Education,  ATS does not receive any federal, state, or University funding. The program is fiscally managed by the campus auxiliary, University Enterprises, Inc.

Program Benefits

  • ATS provides support to local schools in their efforts to provide appropriately differentiated programs for highly able and motivated youth.
  • Students can experience academic enrichment and preview potential college majors and careers through subject matter that is not customarily available within the regular school curriculum.
  • Students have the opportunity to achieve their highest potential in traditional academic courses at levels beyond those typically available at their grade level
  • Bringing together intellectual peers from throughout the Sacramento Valley region allows students to make new friends who share similar interests and improve social skills.
  • Students learn from University faculty, community college professors, area public and private school instructors, and industry professionals who want to share their expertise in their fields


Program History

The Academic Talent Search (ATS) program was founded by Dr. Terry Thomas in 1982. In the early 1980s, Dr. Thomas saw a need in northern California for the application of Dr. Julian Stanley's research in academic acceleration. Dr. Stanley's creation of the Study for Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) at Johns Hopkins University led to a greater national awareness of the need for talent identification and development opportunities for advanced adolescents. Believing that students should have a broad palette of educational options at a young age, and committed to the advancement of the gifted adolescent who frequently lacks support and nurturing from a public school system with limited resources, Dr. Thomas established the Academic Talent Search program at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) to fill the void.

ATS began by providing instruction in mathematics, expository writing, and study skills to 106 junior high school scholars. Achievement levels of students were exceptionally high. The program was so successful that more courses were offered the next year. Again, student achievement was outstanding. The program has grown in the following decades to offer more than 100 classes each summer to academically talented youth. In 2004, Dr. Thomas was honored as the first recipient of the University's Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service.

Since 1982, ATS has offered acceleration opportunities as well as enrichment coursework to junior high school students from throughout the greater Sacramento region. In the early 1990s, as districts began shifting toward middle schools (instead of junior high schools), ATS opened eligibility to sixth graders. Beginning in Summer 2009, ATS further expanded to offer courses for students currently in grades four and five.

Classes are held on the Sacramento State campus, giving participants the opportunity to sample university life at an early age. Parents report that the collegiate environment is beneficial in developing students' self-confidence and independence. For some students, coming to Sacramento State for ATS classes makes college seem like an attainable goal.

ATS is committed to ensuring that no student is deprived of the opportunity for academic excellence and makes available financial aid scholarships to students each summer. Past partnerships with local organizations and companies such as Intel, SMUD, McClellan Air Force Base, Whole Foods, the Discovery Museum, VSP Vision Care, and Golden 1 Credit Union have allowed students to discover, hands-on, the real life applications of the theoretical principles they study in class.

Since its founding, ATS has provided instruction to more than 46,500 academically talented young scholars. Many of these students have gone on to achieve great success in college and in their chosen careers.

Advisory Committee

Dr. Chris Boosalis
Professor, Graduate & Professional Studies in Education, Sacramento State

Mr Kim Hughes
Head Gymnastic Coach, Retired, Sacramento State

Greg Lang
President, Greg M Lang, CPA Inc

Nestor Lara-Baeza
Partner | Director, Xhibition Creative Agency

Nancy Lee
Attorney at Law, Compostela Consulting Inc

Dr. Edith LeFebvre
Professor, Communication Studies, Sacramento State

Patricia Rucker
Legislative Advocate, California Teachers Association

Al Schubert
SVP and General Manager - Individual Markets, VSP Vision Care

Dr. Terry A. Thomas
Founder, Academic Talent Search, and Professor Emeritus, College of Education, Sacramento State

Marlene Townsend
Retired, University Enterprises, Inc.

Shayla Williams-Barnes
Senior Program Director, CDI/CDC