Contributed by Susan Klinker
Nearly 750 West Valley students, from 12 different schools, had a blast earlier this month when they attended a unique after-school program called the University Diversity Mash-up. The event hosted by the Utah Cultural Celebration Center is intended to create a fun and exciting environment for kids to explore options in higher education and career choices. The goal is to inspire kids to dream big! And set their sights on making their dreams come true!
Much thanks to Jason Hewlett who kicked things off with is funny and inspiring talk about “finding your signature moves”, while Salt Lake community College’s Culinary Dept served up a fresh baked pizza snack. In the Exploration area kids set loose to visit a dozen stations where they learned about career choices, varying pay scales, degree options, finding money for college, Lego League robotics, and so much more. Partner organizations who voluntarily participated in the event included Granite School District, SLCC, University of Utah, UHEAA, Step-up, UESP, Cyprus Credit Union, Utah First Bank, DCAT Davis, AVID, Utah First Lego League, West Valley City Neighborhood Services, and WVC Youth City Council. Once they had visited at least 5 stations and collected their course credits, students earned a diploma and the chance to enter the raffle for some great prize give aways, including one Kindle Fire Reader for each of the 3 days the program was held. The final segment of the program included a segment called “Lets talk About Dreams!” where Veronica Aguilera Sanchez, the Early Outreach Coordinator for SLCC spoke with kids about making their dreams come true through the pursuit of higher education. She also shared Michelle Obama’s fun and catch College Rap video clip. Finally, local entrepreneur and motivational speaker Sherri Candland, spoke with the kids about the power of vision and holding positive images of our future in our minds. She spoke about creating a dream board with images of what they want in their future and looking at it every day. The students will be creating dream boards back in the classroom. An exhibit of select pieces will be shown at the Cultural Center opening March 7th through April 6th. Margaret Peterson of the Community Education Partnership of West Valley City said she was hearing wonderful feedback from the afterschool program coordinators and principals. One teacher said, “I’ve never seen the kids so excited! They couldn’t wait to go home and talk to their parents about college”.
The program is generously supported by a West Valley City CDBG grant.