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Pathway Conference Puts High School and Community College Students on Track to Success

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Eric Brown knows firsthand how finding community can change one’s college experience. 

“When I got to CSUF, going through the process of picking classes and setting up my schedule was nerve-racking, but being able to have other brothers in college and learning from them was a huge step. I had people that I could talk to and relate to,” said Brown, a third-year kinesiology student who was inspired by the Male Success Initiative to volunteer at Cal State Fullerton’s annual Pathway Conference. 

Presented by the Center for Educational Partnerships and Male Success Initiative-Fullerton, the April 5 Pathway Conference invited approximately 120 high school seniors and community college students to campus to give them a glimpse into the programs at Cal State Fullerton. Throughout the day, students connected with resources, networked with current students and alumni, and learned more about the transfer pathway. 

“I want to help high schoolers and transfer students learn about the different opportunities they can get involved in that can help their process throughout college,” said Brown. 

Originally established in 2016 as the Male Youth Empowerment Conference, the event was rebranded this year to focus on the transfer pathway with an emphasis on men of color student success and excellence. It was funded by Fullerton ASPIRE: Access, Support, Pathways and Inclusive Resources for Everyone, a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that supports students from underrepresented backgrounds with resources and academic opportunities. 

“We would love for these students to come to Cal State Fullerton, but even if they don’t, we want them to understand the transfer pathway,” said Adriana Badillo, director of the Center for Educational Partnerships. “We know that the transfer process can be very complex, and it’s important to reach students before they come to our campus or before they’re applying, so they have the navigational capital to successfully transition between systems.”

Felipe Martinez, director of the Center for Scholars, added that the conference allows CSUF to provide resources to students early in their academic careers, which can make a significant difference in shaping their futures. 

“For our young men of color, in particular, they can sometimes have trouble seeking help,” said Martinez. “They want to do it all on their own, but they don’t have to. We have people here to support them.” 

The visiting students attended several breakout sessions, focusing on topics like identity and sense of belonging, career pathways and opportunities in the university’s eight colleges. Outside of academic support, they learned about such resources as study abroad programs, on-campus housing, mental health services and scholarships. 

They also learned about campus communities like those found in the Transfer Adult Re-entry Parenting and Pregnant Student Center and the Male Success Initiative

“By bringing these students to campus and having these events, we start that process to help them visualize themselves in higher education,” said Martinez.

Taylor Arrey