Her parents, both born and raised in Belize, didn’t know much about the American school system. Although Williams was a good student, she had never been informed of her options after high school until she was nominated by her school to participate in VIPS. “I knew nothing about college up until that point,” said Williams, a first-generation college student who was a VIPS mentor for three years while at UCLA, and then served as the VIPS summer program coordinator. Williams said she developed a true passion for social justice and education because of VIPS and the Advanced Academic Placement Program at UCLA, the nation’s largest university-based student diversity program. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among the more than 30 high school seniors participating in the 2014 summer program was Eryn Jones, whose mother is a proud Bruin alumna. Although summer can be a good time to kick back, Jones said there was no better way to spend her time than at UCLA. Not only did she and
“They’re plugged in right away and treated as college students. They’re taking college classes, getting units, getting grades, and they have an official UCLA transcript.”
her fellow classmates take credited classes focused on education and admissions, as well as a course on media literacy with an emphasis on class, race and gender, they also improved their study habits and time management skills while deepening their friendships with others. Building confidence, expanding experiences “I loved the relationships I had with all the kids,” said Jones, who attends Westchester High School and dreams of attending UCLA. “Everything we did, we did together. There were no cliques, no drama. It was just a good, safe environment. The program leaders wanted us to feel open to express ourselves, and I feel that’s what made us so close.” Many have become great friends outside of the program, she said. One of her friends, VIP scholar Cheyenne Lawrence, already plans to apply to Berkeley, Georgetown and UCLA after she graduates from John Muir High School in Pasadena. And she’s excited about earning actual college credit. “If I get an A here, then I start off my
GPA with an A, so that’s a real benefit,” Lawrence said. “VIPS offers things that you can never learn in high school in general,” she said, noting that she has already noticed an improvement in her writing and critical thinking skills. “It builds you as a person.” For Juquari Baskin, VIPS represents a transformative opportunity to create a promising future for himself, something he wasn’t always so sure he’d have. “As a foster child there really aren’t a lot of opportunities for you out there, so I really wanted to jump into every opportunity that I could get into that would help me,” Baskin said. “This was my chance to be somebody and to do something with my life.” Learn more: For more information on the Vice Provost Initiative for Pre-College Scholars (VIPS) program, please visit: http://www. ugeducation.ucla.edu/aap/programs/vips.
17 UCLA COLLEGE REPORT