Summer Intensive Students Kick off 15th Anniversary of 10,000 Degrees Institute

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(Above:  All Summer Intensive Students at orientation on July 12 held at Dominican University of California.)

When students showed up at the campuses of Dominican University of California, Sonoma State University, St. Mary’s College of California and Cal State East Bay July 28 through August 9, they became part of a 15-year history of 10,000 Degrees Institutes that have launched nearly 1,200 low-income students from the North Bay into successful college careers. The six-day residential Summer Intensive is a part of the 10,000 Degrees Institute, through which students are prepared to apply to and succeed in college.

Institute graduate Ariana Meza-Elliott (from Sonoma Valley High, who is headed to Sonoma State this fall) summed up her experience in a speech at a recent celebration.

“Before the Institute, I would have said that our history doesn’t define our futures. After the great experiences these past two years, I have learned you can take the negative that has happened in your past, and turn it into a positive, like I have chosen to do in mine. We have been given the chance and opportunity to change where our stories will lead.”

A hallmark of the summer program is that the sessions are run entirely by 10,000 Degrees alumni, who apply for highly selective positions as Student Advisors.

“One of the best parts of the Summer Intensive is watching the remarkable transformation that takes place–watching students come into their own, realizing their potential and owning their futures.  And of course, my other favorite part is watching our alumni teaching and coaching the next generation.  It’s a beautiful thing!” says 10,000 Degrees President Kim Mazzuca.

“It’s powerful for current students to have Institute participants from just a few years ago leading activities, telling powerful stories, and teaching classes. Seeing recent alumni in these roles, students can visualize themselves being successful,” says Manager of College Access Alex Stern.

“From the last day of the program I knew I wanted to become a Student Advisor,” says Erik Mejia, who is currently attending Napa Valley College.

“During the weeklong intensive, students experience the interconnection of personal narrative, college exploration, self-confidence, cohort building and practical how-to’s of the application process, which together allows them to access and succeed in college,” says Stern.

The Summer Intensive kicks off the 10,000 Institute, which includes counseling throughout participants’ high school years. Students receive professional advising and information from full-time College Advisors at 10,000 Degrees (many of whom are also alumni of the program) as well as guidance and support from a strong network of volunteer mentors.

The Institute program has a proven track record: 10,000 Degrees alumni who enter four-year colleges have an 84 percent graduation rate versus 54 percent of the national population.