Saturday at Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus was humming with excitement. The walkways were filled with chatter, laughter and music. It wasn’t the usual busy morning with students coming and going to class — instead the crowds were made up of parents, kids and volunteers sporting gold shirts.
Nearly 500 future Sun Devils and their families gathered at the Beus Center for Law and Society for Future Sun Devil Family Day on Sept. 17. The event is a one-day program that provides families with an overview of university life, resources and workshops — both in English and Spanish — with information on achieving college success such as:
• financial aid and scholarships
• preparing for college
• high school to college transitions
• family engagement
The day kicked off with Marcela Lopez, ASU assistant director for the American Dream Academy, emceeing the event. First things first, to be a Sun Devil proper, pitchfork technique is important and she taught parents and students how to throw their forks up before giving them an overview of the day.
ASU Downtown Phoenix campus Dean Ron Briggs and Edmundo Hidalgo, vice president of educational outreach partnership both addressed the crowd, thanking both parents and students for dedicating the time to plan for their educational future.
The welcome seminar also included special guest Luis Heredia, district director for Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego; ASU alumni and president of ASU Los Diablos Alumni Association; and first-generation college graduate.
“The main reason that I am here today is in full support of the mission of exposing a great institution that ASU provides, and the reason ASU does this important event is that you represent an important element to the future of our state,” Heredia said.
The college-attainment education that Future Sun Devil Family Day provides did not exist for his farmworker parents. The crowd attentively listened as he described his educational journey and how achieving a college education is a “gate-opening opportunity.”
“The programs and what ASU is trying to do is articulate that mission, articulate what you can do to become very successful and give the skills to that student,” he said. “It is very important that you begin opening the window and the door, not only for yourself but everybody else that is coming after you.”
Parents and students poured out of Beus excited to find the educational sessions at University Center.
Kim Oeberst from Ahwatukee chatted with the students at the SPARKS tent. She had her two sons in tow, one who is a senior in high school taking dual enrollment classes and was curious about the different ASU campus locations.
“We’re trying to get more information, expose him to opportunities, what campus life is like on the various campuses,” she said. “This is the first one of several that we’re going to be visiting at ASU.”
Like Oeberst, many parents at Future Sun Devil Family Day care about the educational future of their children and the best possible route for them to achieve a postsecondary education.
“Future Sun Devil Families is really important for families because it demystifies all of the questions, all of the doubts that parents sometimes have about the process of coming to college,” Hidalgo said. “When across the country we have the largest wave of first-generation students, sometimes parents cannot guide them.”
With so many changes over the years, even parents who did attend college may have to re-learn what it takes for their son or daughter to go to college, he said. People are interested, people are engaged, and it’s proof that they are ready to take on this challenge.
Parents and not-yet college students lined the halls of University Center waiting for their turn to join a session. One of those aspiring students, Valentina Sanchez from Westview High School, was joined by her dad, who encourages her to go to college. She will be the first in her family to go to college with aspirations to study criminal justice. Her goal for the day: learn about financial aid and scholarships. It had been the most popular session of the day.
It's never too early to start thinking about college. Thirteen-year-old Juliana Ibarra from Wigwam Creek Middle School in Litchfield Park was excited, was ready to explore and already has a goal and big dreams. She wants to be a lawyer.
“I want to come here to get my undergraduate degree in criminology and then go to Harvard,” she said.
Missed this Future Sun Devil Family Day? ASU is hosting three more half-day events this school year.
When: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Nov. 19
Where: Tempe campus
When: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Feb. 4, 2017
Where: Tempe campus
When: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 8, 2017
Where: West campus
For more information, visit https://eoss.asu.edu/fsdf.