One of our many long lasting and successful statewide partnerships has been with UC Davis, EAOP (early academic outreach programs). We’ve worked with Director Timoteo Rico for year, and we had a chance to interview him as part of our ongoing partner spotlight series.
CGU: How did you get into Early Academic Outreach and why are you passionate about it?
TR: During my undergraduate education, I was employed with EAOP by Shelley Davis and her team as a Undergraduate Outreach Assistant, and I have had the opportunity to introduce a variety of outreach strategies that has positively influenced a student’s efficacy toward postsecondary enrollment. Evidently, EAOP has continued to keep the doors of opportunity open for a multiple generations of low-income and first-generation students and families like myself. Through educational opportunities, EAOP create hope and optimism about what the future awaits for our youth in our State.
CGU: Why do you think it is important to engage students early in academic outreach and college opportunities?
TR: Social capital is the currency which creates motivational aspiration in the hearts of our children. Without the exposure and experience of academic outreach and college opportunities, many youth do not realize what options await them in the future. Early exposure and experiences help a student to develop competencies at becoming successful in higher education. Early engagement allows timely nurturing and refining of skills while keeping the adolescent innocence of dreams alive in the student. Unfortunately, without early engagement, students may be plagued by the social challenges in schools and our communities.
CGU: Tell us about your experience in middle and high school. How were you influenced to attend college?
TR: Somewhere, somehow through my elementary and middle school education, somebody placed a seed about pursuing a college education. The idea about college always floated around in the back of my head but the concept did not become into fruition until high school. Specifically, Dr. Ramzy Salem and Ms. Nelson at James A. Garfield began to flourish my mathematical skills and provided greater direction as to how to become an elite student in East Los Angeles community. Both educators connected me to a variety of resources that ensured my timely preparation and advising at becoming an eligible freshman for the UC system. There is no doubt, education is a noble profession.
CGU: What do you think are some of the most important factors that will contribute to preparation for and student success in college?
TR: The positive influence of educators and administrators in motivating the academic and social development of students is pivotal to student’s college readiness. Fundamentally, the inertia that is developed through student motivation causes any pupil to take the greatest academic challenges, persevere against all social obstacles, and engage the concept of college as a reality, not a distant dream. Effective strategies that have positively influenced the academic readiness of students to pursue postsecondary opportunities include academic advising services, awareness of the college setting, comprehensive understanding and application of academic disciplines, and personal motivational strategies that serve as food to the student’s soul.
CGU: Tell us about some of the UC Davis EAOP initiatives you are most proud of.
TR: The six-week Summer Algebra Academies (SAA) has successfully help transition middle school students into introductory algebra by 9th grade. Initially started as the Math & Science Academy at Golden State Middle School in the Washington Unified School District by Josephine Blick, the project has evolved to a great success where the model has been replicated and improved in other regional school districts. Recently, the SAA expanded its model to incoming 8th graders at a regional middle school. In addition, another school began to assess, from an instructional and curricular perspective, whether the traditional mathematical sequence was the best fit for its students. The cohort of students known as da’ PAC (Pacers at Grant Union High School in the Twin Rivers Unified School District, have determine that advanced algebra should immediately follow introductory algebra, not geometry. All these models also included mentoring, advising and college awareness components such as trips to local colleges and universities, and exposure to professions requiring minimally a four-year degree. A core majority of all these students have been successful in their mathematic courses when others had deemed them not teachable.
CGU: Tell us about the relationship between EAOP and GEAR UP?
TR: The predecessors of EAOP are employees of GEAR UP and the historical knowledge of what strategies have work and what has not work, has been highly preserved by the experience of the outreach staff. The sharing of stories and revitalization of our past has continued to keep our passion alive while we continue to reflect how far both programs have come. One common ideal between both programs is value of family – whenever either end of the family tree is in need of assistance, support, and guidance we count on each other. Community starts at home.
CGU: What is your favorite part of your job?
TR: Although this does not occur often as the program director, I enjoy interacting with students and parents while learning about where they intend to be in 10 years. I enjoy witnessing the enthusiasm and energy of our participants, and how our outreach programs are the creators of their internal repository, where limitless amount of energy is readily available to propel them towards academic excellence and success.
Special thanks to Timoteo for taking time out of his day to share his insights with us. Another inspiring GEAR UP early outreach story.
To learn more about California GEAR UP partnerships, please visit our website.
For more on UC Davis EAOP go HERE.