NAC Scholars Opt for Summer School
Every summer, when the last school bells ring and vacations begin, NAC Scholars do what they do all year round: They continue to dedicate their days to learning; they actively pursue their education. For the last seven years, NAC doors have remained open during the summer months, and NAC scholars have continually enrolled in and attended a diverse selection of academic and extracurricular classes and activities.
Led by mentors and academic tutors, NAC summer classes cover topics ranging from Sociology & Politics to Chemistry, Geometry, and even Cooking and Photography. NAC staff design each course to meet national education standards while they also engage students with creative formatting and practical applications.
Students in Emanuel Raya’s Sociology & Politics course have been discussing the trial of Socrates by Plato, as well as Nietzsche’s The Will to Power and Michel Foucault’s views on power and knowledge. Students in the course include recent high school graduates who are interested in examining laws, power, politics, culture, and more. Emanuel aims to share the course material as objectively as possible, noting, “I try my best to provide them with multiple perspectives on topics as well as various counter-arguments.” During one discussion, NAC Scholar Rei Hurtado asked, “How do we get into a position of power?” Emanuel answered, “That’s for you to decide, but you’re on your way.” Other students also answered, citing social and communication skills, as well as money, education, and psychological stability as a means to power. Emanuel smiled, and ultimately concurred.
In a NAC first, Michelle Sendejas taught students to make slime in Chemistry class. While producing the gooey concoction, students studied various chemical reactions and found a new use for Borax. In Geometry, Elizabeth “Liz” Olivares, a NAC Mentor and Academic Tutor, found a creative way to get students to think critically using math and images. Liz asked students to choose a picture from online and show the pictures to the other students. After observing the pictures, Liz asked how the photos applied to Geometry. Students started recognizing shapes, lines, and angles within the pictures, something they didn’t realize earlier. On why she created this exercise, Liz noted, “I hope that the tools or skills they gained from this lesson, they will apply to life and additional courses. When they have a problem, I hope they will be able to look at the situation from a different perspective and observe that the situation has other possibilities.
112 of our rising Seniors also enrolled in SAT Preparation classes taught by College Spring.
Workshops and Community Service
The Higher Education Services Department holds daily workshops to assist NAC Scholars, as well as recent graduates, with college preparation and transition, interviews, financial aid, and more. Fernando Martinez, Assistant Director of Higher Education Services, and Ivana Villarreal, Higher Education Services Coordinator, have found that the Survival Kit Workshops designed for rising seniors stirs a “palpable excitement” as students move one step closer to beginning their higher education journeys. Fernando cites the “Talking to People at Parties: CTCL Version” workshop as one of the most transformative. According to Fernando, “When students realize that talking to college reps doesn’t have to be so stressful, they start breaking out of their shell and create these amazing ways to talk to the reps.” Ivana notes that these workshops do invite some level of stress initially, but they really serve to empower students and better prepare them for the next step.
The Mentoring and Social Services Department also hosts weekly workshops and community service opportunities. Madeline “Maddy” Gonzalez, the Director of Mentoring and Social Services, with help from Lidia Hernandez, Assistant Director of Mentoring and Social Services, join students as they participate in community service activities for organizations like the Surfrider Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank, and the WELL Program. After working alongside NAC Scholars at a local soup kitchen, Maddy noted, “The youth were able to really see a need just down the street from them; I feel like this was a true definition of giving back.”
It’s no secret that NAC Scholars excel both inside and outside the classroom. Each winter, scholars meet for the annual Summer Opportunities Panel and discuss constructive ways to spend their summers. A panel of students who have previously participated in a number of programs leads the discussion and answers questions about their experiences. This is where it pays off.
NAC Scholar Gabriel Piñon recently attended the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Conference at Sacramento State University, from July 18 to July 25. Gabriel was accepted after submitting three essays, a letter of recommendation, a transcript, and a list of extracurricular activities. According to Gabriel, the obstacles were worth his time: “The conference was a really eye-opening experience that exposed me to my culture and the legislative process. Before I arrived, I was really not well connected with the idea that I was a Chicano. However, through a week of morale and support, I left the institution with pride in my cultural background.” Gabriel added, “I used to hate politics, but after experiencing what it is like to be a senator, to know that your voice accounts for a major deciding factor in the final vote and the future of our nation, that is something that CLYLP has offered me, something that I now might consider as a career path.”
NAC Scholar Judith Carrillo also recently returned from weeklong Future Latino Leaders Law Camp in Washington D.C., where she had the opportunity to learn more about the legal profession. According to Judith, “The program taught me that not everything in law is black and white; two people can look at a case and see things completely differently because it is how you apply the law that makes a difference.”
Other NAC Scholars who have participated in summer programs include Rosa Vasquez, who participated in The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship Student Congress, the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Conference, as well as the Dartmouth Bound Summer Program; Long Nguyen and Belerofonte Mar participated in the Summer Engineering Camp at Bucknell University, where they lived on campus and attended college lectures, lab demonstrations and experiments, in order to learn more about the world of engineering. NAC Scholar Sebastian Ayala received a scholarship for an all-expenses paid trip to England from the British Studies Summer Program; he had the opportunity to learn about and experience the British culture by visiting various historical monuments.
Overall, it’s been a busy summer at the NAC (and abroad). As the new school year approaches, our scholars will already be in study mode and ready to take on new academic challenges.