GradNation Summit at CSUSB focuses on increasing graduation rates

29 Feb GradNation Summit at CSUSB focuses on increasing graduation rates

By Anthony Victoria: Inland Empire Community New
Photo/Anthony Victoria

Local area youth in the Inland Empire, along with community members, leaders, and parents attended the GradNation Educational Summit held at Cal State San Bernardino on Saturday November 15 that focused on finding solutions to increase graduation rates.

Convened in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the national GradNation campaign, the Congregations for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), the Youth Action Project (YAP) and the San Bernardino Unified School District, along with many others, combined to organize the summit that featured a long day of events that ranged from workshop sessions, testimonies from inspirational speakers, entertainment, and information on college and careers.

SBCUSD representative Marcelino Serna giving a workshop on entrepreneurship ideas for youth during the GradNation summit on November 15.
The primary goal of the GradNation campaign is to achieve a 90 % graduation rate nationwide by 2020. The organization’s goal is to have every high school in the nation graduate more than 80 % of its students by that time. San Bernardino County was pleased to join the nationwide effort by bringing students, families, educators, and community organizations together to make sure students graduate high school prepared for higher education and careers, according to the summit’s program.

SBCUSD Superintended Dr. Dale Marsden said his district has set the audacious goal to involve all students in career pathways by 2017. For the goal to be obtainable Marsden said the newly created Community Engagement Plan that formalizes partnerships with the public/private sector and higher education institutions, must utilize career pathways a new engagement paradigm “to ensure authentic and relevant student learning experiences.”
“When students are prepared for both college and career, then they have access and opportunity to succeed in the real world of work,” Marsden said. “Today’s summit provides a glimpse of what we are making possible for students to graduate from high school prepared for a future where they can prosper.”

The workshops resembled the area’s emphasis on developing students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Vocational, Business Entrepreneurship, and Communications careers. Workshops were offered in Neurofeedback Science, Careers in Telecommunications, Radio, Television, and Film careers, and Business Ideas for Teen Entrepreneurs, among many more.

Marcelino Serna, the parent/family involvement officer at SBCUSD’s Family Resource Center and the owner of PM productions, provided two workshops on business ideas for teen entrepreneurs. He expressed his dissatisfaction with young men and women who view themselves as entrepreneurs by doing things like selling drugs. It was his primary motivation to coordinate the workshops to educate area youth on legal and safe ways to make good money.
“At the end of the day I tell kids, ‘It may be a good opportunity, but how long do you have and what good are you doing for society?’”
said Serna. “Simple things like starting a photography business or starting another small business are things they can do that are legal, worthwhile, and is long term. My goal is to move them away from crime and drugs.”

Raihanah Medlock, 15, a sophomore at Grand Terrace High School gave a spoken word on the importance of pursuing higher education. She mentioned the struggles of Civil Rights leaders that fought for social equality to ensure students like her have a safe pathway towards success. Medlock said the workshops and services provided at the summit could be used as references and guidance for young students aiming to go to college.

“I really like these events because they provide a lot of insight on the different careers and allow you to interact with top professionals,” she said.
Laura Mitchell of San Bernardino said the workshop on Saving Money for College provided her with great information and resources to help fund her daughter’s education.

Overall, she believes the summit will help students understand the importance of utilizing various services and resources to navigate their way through higher education.

“It was an awesome day,” she said. “It exceeded my expectations as I didn’t know what to expect.”