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Sac State officials visit Black churches on ‘Super Sunday’ to sing the praises of higher education

Sac State Provost Carlos Nevarez, at the podium, addressed the congregation of Center of Praise, a Black church in Midtown Sacramento, during Super Sunday on Feb. 26, and stressed the importance of encouraging young people to attend college. (Sacramento State/Bibiana Ortiz)

At Center of Praise Ministries, a Black church in Midtown Sacramento, Bishop Parnell Lovelace Jr. reminded his flock on Sunday how important it is to encourage young people to attend college.

“It’s one of our core values,” he said, which is why the congregation welcomed Sacramento State administrators to the day’s services.

Sac State officials shared information about attending the University with churchgoers on Super Sunday.
Sacramento State officials visited several churches on Super Sunday, Feb. 26, to share information about attending the University. (Sacramento State/Bibiana Ortiz)

Their visit marked Super Sunday, an annual event that is a major component of the CSU’s effort to attract more Black students to college and help them obtain their degrees. All 23 of the system’s campuses send representatives to traditionally Black churches for the event.

Sac State Provost Carlos Nevarez addressed the Center of Praise congregation, and several other administrators also attended a joyous service that included lively music, singing, and clapping. Before and after the service, attendees talked with University staff members about admissions, financial aid, and other resources.

In addition to Center of Praise, Sac State officials also attended services at St. Paul Baptist Church in South Sacramento.

Chevelle Newsome, Sac State’s dean of Graduate Studies, said Super Sunday is a cornerstone of Sac State and the CSU’s efforts to support Black students.

“At Sac State, our faith-based and community partners are indispensable in helping us to showcase the transformative power of education,” Newsome said. “Throughout the year, we engage with our Super Sunday partners to provide campus tours, parents and student support workshops, and host events on campus to highlight the full spectrum of what a college education provides.”

Nevarez, filling in for President Robert S. Nelsen, who was sidelined with a cold, emphasized to Center of Praise congregants that Sac State offers students a safe and welcoming environment as well as the financial, educational, and social support necessary to finish college.

The University continues to narrow the gap in graduation rates between students of color and the overall student body, and graduation rates overall are on the rise, he noted.

“We see it as a moral imperative that if you enroll at Sac State, you will graduate,” he said. “We will meet you halfway to ensure you have success. College is doable. College is affordable. College can change your life.”

Nevarez also told parishioners that “a college degree has never been more valuable than it is today,” with graduates earning significantly more income over their lifetimes than people without diplomas.

“I always wanted to go to college. I just wanted more in my life, more than what my mother had.” -- Jacqueline Wilson, Sac State alumna

More than 2,600 of the University’s approximately 31,000 students identify as Black and receive support from a wide range of programs and services, including through the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

Jacqueline Wilson, who raised her hand when Nevarez asked if any Hornets were in attendance, said her Sac State education has been valuable.

“I definitely used that degree,” said Wilson, who graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s in Business Administration, concentrating on Management. “It taught me to be the manager I wanted to be.”

She had a long career as a manager in state government, retiring from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

“I always wanted to go to college,” said Wilson, who was the first in her family to earn a degree. “I just wanted more in my life, more than what my mother had.”

Brian Shine, a top student coming out of Christian Brothers High School, had a variety of options for college, but chose Sac State.

“I just love the community and the energy I receive from it,” said Shine, a first-year Business student. “People are so welcoming.”

He encourages friends and relatives to pursue higher education, he said.

“For me, it represents an opportunity to achieve success,” said Shine, who was volunteering as a crossing guard in front of the church. “It gives me more avenues to achieve my goals.”

Lovelace, the Center of Praise bishop, praised Sac State’s efforts to recruit and graduate Black students.

“May this school year be the greatest that Sac State has ever experienced,” he said.

Center of Praise Ministries and Sac State officials discuss the importance of attending college with churchgoers on Super Sunday.
At Center of Praise Ministries, a Black church in Midtown Sacramento, Sac State offcials shared information about attending college with service attendees during Super Sunday on Feb. 26. (Sacramento State/Bibiana Ortiz)


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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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