The Liberal Arts Ambassadors
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Too few young people are aware of what a liberal arts education can offer, especially those from underserved backgrounds: young people from underrepresented ethnicities, or low-income families, or whose parents didn’t attend college. Unfamiliar with the liberal arts alternative, these young people risk missing out on an education that can serve not just their career interests, but all dimensions of their lives.
With the support of the Foundation for Independent Higher Education and of two generous friends of Westmont, the Gaede Institute created the Liberal Arts Ambassadors program to address this critical need. The Ambassadors are college students, themselves from underserved backgrounds, who visit Santa Barbara area schools helping students discover all the ways that a liberal arts education can serve their future. Along the way, the Ambassadors become more deeply invested in their own education, develop marketable skills, and enjoy a supportive network with others who share similar backgrounds.
For the past two years we partnered with the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) to place 9 Ambassadors as tutors in the local high schools and junior high schools, equipping scores of young people to be successful college applicants, and offering the inspiration and guidance so desperately needed through the complex process of preparing for college. In addition to our partnership with Cal-SOAP, this spring we launched a new tutoring program on the east side of Santa Barbara. “Amigos” is a collaborative effort between the Liberal Arts Ambassador program and Caesar Chavez Charter School (now the Adelante Charter School), with the goal of creating a college-going atmosphere for the 4th-6th graders at Cesar Chavez. Last semester, 9 ambassadors worked at Cesar Chavez as tutors in 4 different classrooms, helping to engage students in thinking about the reality of Higher Education through mentorship and encouragement.
Before you Choose a College, Choose an Education, a booklet and companion website(www.college-choice.org), help the young people our Ambassadors are working with to discover all that college can be forthem and show how a liberal arts education can meet their needs. Westmont’s admissions and orientation programs are also using these resources, as are other colleges and universities, helping prospective students across the country better understand the value of a liberal arts education.