Two UCSB organizations played host over the weekend to over 60 Los Angles area youth who were attending a college outreach program.

The Hermanos Unidos student organization and the Sigma Alpha Zeta sorority hosted the sixth annual College Link Outreach Program (CLOP) last Thursday through Saturday. Griselda Acosta, Sigma Alpha Zeta treasurer and CLOP coordinator, said low-income minority youth from the L.A. area could be first generation college students or come from low-income families. She said they lack exposure to college life or do not know how to go about entering college.

Coordinators chose students for the event based on candidates that showed need for college resources and exposure to higher education, said Luis Chaidez, Hermanos Unidos Outreach and CLOP coordinator.

“These students don’t have the support they need because they come from underrepresented schools and they’re either low-income or first-generation students,” said Chaidez.

A committee comprised of both Sigma Alpha Zeta and Hermanos Unidos reviewed over 300 applications and notified the participants of their acceptance in February. The committee discussed the applicants’ personal essay, extracurricular activities, financial need and, if relevant, status as a first-generation student.

All 60 participants were high school sophomores and juniors from schools in the L.A. area, and each was assigned a UCSB student who served as a guide to the campus.

Gladys Ramirez, a 17-year-old Lincoln High School student, said the close interaction with UCSB students living in residence halls provided participants with a personal view of both the academic and social life on campus.

“My host would communicate with me and let me know what type of subjects you could cover at school. Also, she would let us know what types of things we could do for fun,” said Ramirez.

Participants arrived at UCSB on Thursday afternoon and attended opening ceremonies in the MultiCultural Center Theater during the evening. Events included performances by the all-male, student a capella group Brothers From All the Mothers and the Latino theater troupe, Teatro Sabroso Delicioso.

The program’s events included workshops about the university’s area A through G requirements, the UC application process and financial aid information. Participants also attended lectures for large lower division courses that related to their possible majors, such as Chemistry 1C, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology 20 and Physics 1C.

A.S. Executive Director Don Daves-Rougeaux attended the event and spoke to participants about the importance of cultivating future access to higher education for minority youths.

“If you do not keep the door open it will close behind you,” Daves-Rougeaux said.

A panel of eight UCSB students also shared their personal experiences about applying to the university and living the college life.

“Besides the workshops and activities the high school students attend, they get to interact with college students who were once in their shoes, under the same circumstances and had the same confusion and fears,” Acosta said.

First-year electrical engineering major Miguel Gomez, who was on the panel, said that he wanted to show the participants a balanced view of the academic and social aspects of higher education.

“I really want to show them the real college life,” he said. “It’s not all partying; it’s a lot of studying. It’s not all fun, you also have to work very hard.”

The program costs about $7,500 to host, Chaidez said. The Office of Student Life gave the event $6,000 in October of 2004, but the amount was nearly $3,000 short of last year’s grant because of budget cuts, she said.

Both Sigma Alpha Zeta and Hermanos Unidos raised funds by attending TV show tapings, holding fundraisers at restaurants and hosting parties in order to pay for the entertainment, dance and T-shirts that the OSL grant did not cover, said Chaidez.

“We faced budget cuts this year, but the quality of the program wasn’t affected because both organizations actively fund-raised to make up for the difference,” said Chaidez.