Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cal Maritime doing its part to lure students to college

Cal Maritime doing its part to lure students to college
By TONY BURCHYNS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 09/16/2008

California Maritime Academy is reaching out to Vallejo's public schools to encourage more students to go to college.

Developing partnerships include after-school tutoring at the elementary level and college-prep clubs for high schoolers, said Norris Cooper Jr., the director of Cal Maritime's recently established Center for Community Engagement.

Further, Cooper is organizing a conference next month called "Live the Dream" aimed at demystifying the college application process for high school students and their parents. It is scheduled for Oct. 18 at Cal Maritime.

In 2005, Cooper helped create the Black Male Symposium at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, which won an NASPA award.

"The most exciting thing for me is to give these kids an opportunity," Cooper said. "It takes a lot of work to get these things going ... but if we don't do it, nobody's going to do it."

Campuses across the California State University system are striving to boost applications from minority students. In recent years, the state-wide effort has included the annual Super Sunday event, where university presidents, provosts and faculty members speak to congregations of African-American churches.

These efforts helped spawn Cal Maritime's Center for Community Engagement, which started three months ago, Cooper said.

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Mary Bull met with Cooper last week to discuss ways the center can partner with district schools.

"She met with them and was impressed with the work they are doing," district spokesman Jason Hodge said. "At this point they are reaching out to us and we are open to seeing how we can work with them on partnerships that will benefit Vallejo students."

Cooper said plans are unfolding for Cal Maritime students to run computer-based reading and math tutoring programs at Highland and Patterson elementary schools.

Additionally, he wants to launch college-prep clubs at district high schools that would re-quire students to dress professionally one day a week if they are a member.

"My hope would be that their participation and appearance would slowly begin to change other students," Cooper said.

The clubs would also visit college campuses and help plan another student conference next year, Cooper said.

"I have done these for years and have always had great community participation," Cooper said. "I am committed to the task and hope that we can all rally these young people around education."

For more information on Cal Maritime's Center for Community Engagement, call (707) 654-1288 or e-mail

• E-mail Tony Burchyns at or call 553-6831.