San Diego Local Community News

Altrusa International, Inc. of Chula Vista and MAAC Community Charter School (School) are working
together on a joint project called “IDEA” (Inspiring a Desire for Educational Achievement), which
is being funded by a $4,000 Altrusa International Foundation grant, $2,400 from the School, and $1,200
from Altrusa Club of Chula Vista, Inc. Foundation. The goal of the project is to inspire in at-risk students a desire for educational achievement, whether through attendance at a vocational or trade
school, community college, a four-year college, or a prestigious, internationally recognized university
such as the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). They want them to have the idea that they can achieve educational success and that they can close that gap between their dreams and their circumstances. To inspire these students to consider higher education, they took four busloads on a campus tour of UCSD in late January.

Altrusan Elsie Aguirre-Simpson helped develop pre- and postcampus tour surveys. Below are
some of the survey results:
Pre-Campus Tour Survey Results
• 78% of the students had never visited a university and 71% had little knowledge about universities.
• 100 students said they wanted to attend college, and some of the reasons given:
– To have a better future, a good career/job, learn
– Careers they were thinking of: Barber, Lawyer, Architect
• Reasons given for keeping them from going to college:
– Money/cost, Transportation, Family

Post-Survey Results
• 80% rated the campus tour highly, rating it 8.1 out of 10
• 52% said they had much better knowledge of college.

Here are some of their comments:
“I can be a student here if I work hard enough,” “I understand the importance of studying,” “It’s a lot of responsibility and it all depends on me,” “good representation of Latinos on campus,” “there’s a lot of opportunity”, and “it was inspiring.”
We received positive comments from the speakers that it was a worthwhile endeavor.

Elsie spoke to an advisory class at the School in early March, as part of the project consists of inspirational presentations by Altrusans, Chula Vista Noon Rotary Club members and Altrusa friends to students during advisory classes. She told the students she had two different careers and would tell them how she got there. Her first career was in healthcare education and patient advocacy. Her second career was as a high school social studies teacher and assistant principal.

Elsie grew up nearby in National City, attending Sweetwater High School and then Southwestern College. She got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, and eventually came back to San Diego. She worked at Paradise Valley Hospital and liked it and realized she needed more education, so she took some computer classes. As a result of that, she got a higher paying job at Palomar Medical Center as a patient advocate, helping families navigate the hospital system.

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