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  • Sac State hosts expo to boost African American admissions


    Bringing more African American students to Sacramento State is one of the goals for the upcoming Black College Expo. (Sacramento State/Hrach Avetisyan)

    By Cynthia Hubert

    African American students exploring college options should picture themselves at Sacramento State, says Charles Cole, an admissions expert for the University.

    “We have the opportunities in financial aid, academics, campus life and our environment,” said Cole, senior associate director of Admissions and Outreach in the Department of Student Affairs. “We have the tools to help you be successful.”

    Cole will make that pitch on Saturday, Nov. 23, as thousands of students from around the region come to the University for the Black College Expo. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in various rooms of the University Union.

    The nonprofit National College Resources Foundation (NCRF) is sponsoring the expo, the second such event on campus this year. Representatives of about 90 colleges and universities are expected to participate, including those from historically black institutions, California State University and University of California campuses, and community colleges. The goal is to help students and families navigate the college admissions process and promote the importance of higher education.

    “We want to connect with as many students and parents as possible to help them understand the resources that are available to elevate their lives,” said Theresa Price, NCRF founder and executive director.

    Ultimately, “we want to create a more diverse group of leaders, and bring more leaders of color to the table,” she said. “We want to change the world.”

    The foundation has been organizing such gatherings for two decades. It has helped more than half of a million students get to college and awarded more than $1 million in scholarships, Price said.

    For Sacramento State, the expo is an opportunity to attract more African American students to campus and help them succeed in college, said Marcellene Watson-Derbigny, associate vice president for Student Retention & Academic Success. 

    Fewer than 6 percent of Sac State students are black, compared to an overall population of 13.4 percent in Sacramento, census figures show. African American students also graduate from the University at lower rates than white students, an achievement gap that Sac State continues to address with educational equity programs and numerous other university-wide efforts, Watson-Derbigny said.

    “We are creating a wider array of programs and approaches to increase our numbers and ensure success,” she said.

    In January, at the previous Black College Expo on campus, 40 students filed applications to attend Sac State.

    Among the resources that the University offers to African Americans are Super Sunday, an annual outreach event for high school students and their families held at traditionally black churches in the Sacramento area; the Cooper-Woodson College Enhancement Program, which emphasizes leadership, scholarship and service; and the MLK Scholars Program, which offers peer support, tutoring and other services.  

    At Saturday’s expo, the more than 3,000 students expected to attend and their guardians will have access to information about financial aid, the application process, academics, and athletics, among other topics. Students who bring their transcripts and SAT or ACT test scores to the events can be accepted for admission on the spot.

    Seminars and workshops will address “How to get A’s in English,” tools to increase SAT and ACT scores, “411 for the Student Athlete,” and many other subjects.

    Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded at the event.

    Sac State will offer campus tours, information about enrollment and individual advising. Along with UC Davis, the University will host a Causeway Classic reception for expo participants before the Hornets host the Aggies in their annual football game.

    The event is an opportunity to showcase the city’s and the University’s many strengths, Cole said.

    “Sacramento is the city of trees,” he said. “Our campus is close to downtown. We offer a safe environment. We have diversity in our academics and can help students with majors and internships and careers.

    "We stress motivation and preparation. That’s our message.”

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