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Success starts at ASU AVID Conference

Mesa High School students, AVID Conference

Mesa High School sophomores enjoy a break before lunch at the ASU AVID Conference.

March 02, 2016

What does it take for high school students to succeed? That’s what students from 20 local high schools learned at Arizona State University as Access ASU hosted the yearly AVID Conference, welcoming students from across the valley to interact with each other, ASU students and ASU staff.

The mission of AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is to close the achievement gap. The program is aimed to prepare students for college readiness and success by providing academic and social support.

The conference is an opportunity for Arizona high school sophomores to develop their leadership skills and learn about resources available to them at ASU through interactive workshops, campus tours and motivational speakers. It aims to foster positive attitudes toward school and higher education.

Sylvia Symonds, assistant vice president of student outreach at ASU, greeted students and welcomed them to the campus, letting them know that if you can dream it, you can do it at ASU.

“Many of these students will be the first in their families to attend a university," Symonds said. "The AVID conference equips them with the knowledge needed to prepare for college, as well as the tools they need to make their college-going goals a reality.”

Angela Cicero, an English and AVID Teacher at Chandler High School, said that this is elective course for her students who are dedicated to pursing a postsecondary education after high school.

“We target students who are first-generation in their family to attend college, students who are capable of taking honors, AP, IB classes, who need additional support,” Cicero said. “They get that additional support through the AVID elective class.”

“At first I didn’t know what it [AVID] was and then I heard about all the opportunities it gives you,” said Arturo Callegos, a sophomore at Chandler High School.

Guest speaker and graduate research associate Alfredo Rivera encouraged students that if they hear or see something of value during their visit to ASU they should apply it to their lives and see if it doesn’t help them on their path to success.

“I love being a teacher,” said Erika Resch, physical education and AVID teacher at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix.

She encourages her students to do and study what they love.

“If I didn’t like my job, you probably wouldn’t like me as a teacher,” she said. “We are an elective, which is a tough thing with kid’s schedules … and I tell them, I promise you it will pay off.”

What do you eat? What kinds of classes do you take? How do you adjust to college life? What is your favorite class? These are the questions students had for ASU SPARKS students during one of the conference's breakout sessions.

SPARKS, which stands for Students Providing Awareness Resources & Knowledge to Start College, is a student-led organization promoting access to higher educations throughout the community. It is dedicated to increasing college readiness and awareness. ASU students serve as role models and engage with K-12 students through events such as these.

SPARKS students shared their dorm room experiences and insight into their schedules, homework routine and on campus involvement opportunities to a room of intrigued high school students.

During a me3 lunch session, two girls from Phoenix's North High School sat together eating lunch and laughing, their faces excited for what was yet to come: the campus tour.

“I’m actually hoping to experience new things,” sophomore Karla Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is the first in her family to go to college and says AVID keeps her organized and looking at things differently.

“I want to learn how things work out here and what they have,” Monica Ramirez said.

Both girls, before becoming involved in AVID, did not know how college worked, the majors available or college terminology. The AVID course is giving them the tools they need to be successful during high school and preparing them to pursue college.

Gonzalez said she wants to be a cold case detective. With the help of AVID and ASU, if she can dream it, she can do it.

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