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Hundreds of young scholars visit Sac State for APIDA College Day

Hundreds of students from area high schools and middle schools visited Sac State on March 3 for APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) College Day, where they learned about the University and obtained information about attending college. (Sacramento State/Belen Torres)

Arik Santos, a sophomore at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, felt positive vibes while attending Sacramento State’s annual APIDA College Day on March 3.

Amy Tong speaks into a microphone on stage during APIDA College Day.
Amy Tong, California secretary of Government Operations, who is an alumna of Sac State and served as the keynote speaker for APIDA College Day on March 3, spoke to students about the importance of going to college. (Sacramento State/Belen Torres)

“I like the inclusivity,” he said, looking around at hundreds of other students and their chaperones gathered in the University Union Ballroom to learn more about attending Sac State. “This is a group that I can relate to.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people, and exploring everything that Sac State has to offer.”

The daylong event, designed to promote early awareness of college for students who identify as Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA), attracted about 700 scholars representing six school districts in the Sacramento area.

At the event, they attended workshops about subjects including the admissions process and financial aid, listened to accomplished speakers, took campus tours, and attended a resource fair where they could obtain information about various areas of study.

“Do you know how good it feels to look out and see the future, to see the diversity, and to celebrate that diversity?” asked Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen, welcoming the crowd. “Today, we celebrate our APIDA students.”

Nearly 7,000 Sac State students identify as APIDA, a group that represents more than 40 countries and hundreds of languages. The University is a federally designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving institution, and on Feb. 28 it opened the new APIDA Center to serve as a cultural and support hub for those students.

Many attendees missed the opportunity to visit universities during the COVID-19 lockdown, said Jose Nguyen, a counselor at Laguna Creek High who was serving as a chaperone.

“A majority of our students who are here today didn’t have that chance during COVID, so they are really excited to look at all of the buildings and see that college is important and accessible,” Nguyen said. “It’s an avenue for them to see a diverse campus that offers a great education.”

Participants learned about Sac State’s successful Finish in Four and Through in Two graduation initiatives, the University’s Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex and Planetarium, and its campus tree canopy, among many other topics.

"Education is going to challenge the way you think and open you up to so many opportunities.” -- Amy Tong, California secretary of Government Operations

Jorge Aguilar, Sacramento City Unified School District’s superintendent, urged participants to take full advantage of the event’s offerings.

“When I was your age, I came to Sac State for a conference like this one, and it changed my life,” Aguilar said. “Today, be a learner. You belong here. This is your university.”

Amy Tong, California secretary of Government Operations, was the day’s keynote speaker. A first-generation immigrant from China, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sac State.

“As you walk around campus today, take a good look at all of the amenities at a place that will make you feel right at home,” she said.

“Absolutely, take the step to attend college,” Tong said. “It doesn’t really matter what college you attend. Education is going to challenge the way you think and open you up to so many opportunities.”

At the resource fair, Messiah Thompson, a student at Hiram Johnson High in Sacramento, perused tables offering information about areas of study including liberal arts, science and technology, Fashion Merchandising, and Nutrition.

“I’m interested in the medical field, and I’m looking at a lot of different colleges,” she said.

She stopped to ask Yinfa Ma, associate dean for Research and Engagement, about potential majors. Ma mentioned Chemistry and Biology, but his biggest pitch to Thompson and other students, he said, was the University’s culture.

“We are a great University, and we really care about our students,” Ma said. “I tell them, ‘We will help you all the way through to graduation.”

Students at tables in the University Ballroom at Sac State during APIDA College Day.
APIDA College Day attendees learned about Sac State's Finish in Four and Through in Two graduation initiatives and many other topics. The high school and middle school students attended workshops, took campus tours, and attended a resource fair. (Sacramento State/Belen Torres)

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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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