Every year during Black History Month, President Fram Virjee, faculty and staff members visit African American churches in Southern California on Super Sunday to encourage congregants and their children to attend college and, specifically, Cal State Fullerton.
During this year’s CSU Super Sunday, Virjee spoke to the congregation of Christ Our Redeemer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Irvine at the invitation of Pastor Ralph E. Williamson.
“A college degree can unlock life-changing and transformative opportunities — not just for you but for your family and your community,” Virjee told the assembled crowd. “I don’t need to tell you that over the past few years, our communities — and especially the Black community — have been deeply affected not only by the pandemic but by financial uncertainty, deepening inequities, devastating acts of racial injustice and widening divisions across our country.
“But there is a path forward to a brighter future — of that I am certain.”
One path is earning a college degree, said Virjee. “You can go to college, and you should come to Cal State Fullerton.”
Virjee pointed out the long history between the Black community and Cal State Fullerton. CSUF was the first university on the West Coast with a Black woman as president, Jewel Plummer Cobb. She was the granddaughter of a freed slave and when she was pursuing her college degree, she was banned from the dormitories at the University of Michigan because of the color of her skin. Today, the residence halls at Cal State Fullerton are named in her honor.
“That is the legacy of Cal State Fullerton,” Virjee said. “We continue to uphold it with a stated and demonstrated commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity.”
He pointed out events that the university hosts for Black students and the community, scholarship funds available, successful alumni, and multiple programs to celebrate Black success.
“I know three things: First, Cal State Fullerton is here to partner with you every step of the way to make sure you are prepared and can afford college. Second, you can succeed at Cal State Fullerton whether you’re enrolling for the first time, you’re the first in your family to attend college or you’re returning after some time away. Finally, we are an engine of opportunity to power your future prosperity and ensure lifelong success.”
Virjee also pointed out that nearly 80% of CSU undergraduates receive non-loan financial aid and more than half of CSU undergraduates graduate with zero college loan debt.
“As I look out into the audience, I know this congregation is full of men and women — young and old — who have the intelligence, determination and heart to enroll in, succeed at and graduate from college — whether you know it yet or not. We are all part of the same community — a community that stands together and thrives so that all the diverse people of this great state have the opportunity to attend and succeed in college.
“A college degree is a pathway to prosperity — better paying jobs, more satisfying jobs,” he continued. “It is a passkey to unlock a future that will not just lift you up but will lift your family for generations to come. It is the foundation upon which to build a life of success, leadership, change and community.”