UC Merced partnering up with Fresno schools to help increase African American student population

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Summer sessions in math and English are designed to prepare African-American students, not just for high school, but for college as well. (KFSN)

Summer sessions in math and English are designed to prepare African-American students, not just for high school, but for college as well.

"I feel like it definitely makes them more dedicated to finishing their schoolwork and being more engaged so they can get into the UC," said Harmony Newton, Edison High.

If the students complete their requirements, UC Merced will guarantee a spot for them. Forty-one students from all of Fresno Unified's middle schools are involved in the African-American Leadership Cohort. Most of them are preparing for their first year of high school.

"I think I'm encouraged most by the fact that they continue to show up. Really for African-American students that can be difficult because school for a lot of them has not been a positive experience," said Jahmaal Sawyer, teacher.

Sawyer said it is important to reach kids in 8th grade.

Some of them are involved in athletics but the program instills the idea academics can take them much further.

"Yes, I'm thinking about going to college now. Now I'm thinking about wanting to go to UCLA," said Malik Rabb, Bullard High.

Students who didn't think much about college before are now more focused on career goals.

"I want to study bio-medical science and become a toxicologist," said Newton.

"I want to be a lawyer," said Rabb.

But it is not all work and no play-- the kids were also learning a dance routine they can show their parents when the sessions end.

"I feel like dancing feeds more into team-building," said Newton.

Related Topics:
educationuc mercedAfrican Americansfresno unified school districtfresnoFresno
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