We are so grateful for Rosa Armendariz, who contributed this post as a guest author.
This summer has been transformational for this inaugural class of Diamante Scholars. Most significantly, they graduated from their respective high schools, and transitioned to a set of activities and programs to help them enter college prepared and ready!
There is a concept in higher education referred to as “summer melt,” describing a phenomenon that despite being college eligible and sometimes even enrolled in college, students end up not attending – “melting” away during the summer due to jobs, distractions, family demands, or losing focus. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “nationally about 10 to 20 percent of college eligible students melt away, most of which are low-income minority students planning to enroll in community college.” (reference https://www.ed.gov/content/summer-melt). The Diamante Scholars summer component is a deliberate initiative to prepare students for the transition from high school to community college and also prevent the summer melt.
One program the students took advantage of was the summer internships offered through the Mt Diablo Unified School District. Students also enrolled in a Diablo Valley College (DVC) WRKX class to come together with all of the cohort to present on what they were learning through a portfolio. This helped the students explore their career interests in the context of practical work experience. The fact they were able to maintain focus and do this in the current COVID-19 environment is astonishing, and the students were thrilled with the opportunity.
In parallel with their internships, the students met on a weekly basis with the Diamante Scholar program team to help them determine how to select their first semester courses and begin exploring a major for their studies at DVC. To help them put their majors in the context of careers, the students attended an event titled “Majors Exposed” where five guest speakers shared their experiences choosing a major and how their majors shaped the career paths they each followed. The speakers’ careers were aligned with DVC’s “interest areas” or majors to help students see the wide variety of career options available to them.
The speakers covered a wide range of majors, and an even wider range of career paths. In all cases our speakers had followed career paths that did not tie directly back to their majors. Yet our speakers all explained that their majors provided them with the critical thinking skills, project planning skills, and teamwork skills that enabled them to pursue their careers. They emphasized the value of taking risks, learning from failure, and embracing unexpected opportunities.
The Scholars found the event to be relevant, inspiring, and incredibly helpful to preparing them for college in the Fall:
Diamante Scholar: Oscar
“The Majors Exposed event made me more confident in pursuing a degree in the Arts. I really want to spend the fall semester exploring my career options.”
Diamante Scholar: Litzy
“The event was very informative. I learned a lot. I enjoyed the personal stories that the panelist shared.”
Diamante Scholar: Atilio
“I wouldn’t have known what to do after high school if it wasn’t for you guys. It feels good to have a plan.”