A new agreement between Talent Middle School and Southern Oregon University guarantees minority junior high and high school students admission into SOU once they graduate, so long as they fulfill certain application requirements.
The fledgling program, called Pirates to Raiders after the mascots of both schools, was introduced to students and parents of the Phoenix-Talent School District on Thursday, Oct. 27, as an opportunity designed to encourage Hispanic students to take charge of their education.
Students and parents who comply with the conditions of the contract are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75 and attend at least two events offered by the program, in addition to meeting university admission requirements. By doing this, students will be guaranteed a spot at SOU by the time they graduate from high school.
In addition, there are numerous activities for parents, many of whom have never attended university, designed to help them become more familiar with a university environment.
“The goal of the program is for students to get to SOU, and if not, then at least prepare them for opportunities for other universities,” said Blanca Harland, coordinator for Pirates to Raiders at Talent Middle School.
The program was very popular at its inception, enticing 25 volunteers to sign up on the spot, and another 17 in the weeks since.
Harland and Jonathan Chavez-Baez, SOU admissions councilor for minority outreach, met to discuss some of the events that SOU has arranged to familiarize parents and students with the resources offered by the university.
Beginning in December, tours of the school, guidance workshops, and monthly lunches will be provided to address common social topics, such as bullying and peer pressure. During these visits, students will learn about how to prepare for college, how to apply for admission and financial aid, and the value of a university education, especially given the current state of the economy.
In addition, Talent Middle School will be holding monthly meetings with parents to check in on the progress and effectiveness of the program.
SOU students are encouraged to get involved in Pirates to Raiders by volunteering through the Multicultural Resource Center to mentor and tutor students in a range of different subjects. So far, 40 SOU students have agreed to donate their time and energy to help program participants prepare for a successful future, and the numbers continue to rise.
“The Pirates to Raiders program is the kind of initiative I’ve been hoping for ever since I came to Oregon five years ago,” said SOU President Mary Cullinan. “I look forward to seeing all these kids at SOU in a few years.”