“Everybody is talented because everybody has something to express.” UCI is helping to #activatetalent through its involvement with the American Talent Initiative, a growing alliance of 68 top universities dedicated to educating 50,000 additional low-income students by 2025.

“UCI works with local schools, community partners, and industries to help level the playing field for students from underserved communities,” said Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, executive director of the Center for Educational Partnerships. “We are committed to making higher education accessible to students from every community and every background. It is a responsibility we all share and we know our future depends on it.”

Through these partnerships, UCI demonstrates its dedication to providing a “step up” for disadvantaged students. The New York Times ranked UCI the number 1 school in the nation for doing the most for low-income students.

The top colleges participating in ATI work to set aspirational, measurable goals, build a sustainable national campaign, and disseminate data-based knowledge and research. Spearheading the ATI at UCI is Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Michael Dennin.

“As good as UCI is at serving low-income students, we know there is always the ability to achieve more,” said Michael Dennin. “ATI allows us to share best practices with other highly competitive institutions and rapidly adjust to the changing needs of all of our students.”

To kick off ATI, Dennin has launched the UCI branch of the nationwide #ActivateTalent social media campaign. Under his leadership, OVPTL expects to make a splash online and spread the news about college accessibility for underserved communities.

The goal of the campaign is to highlight the stories of low income and first-generation students and faculty using social media. We encourage you to search for “#ActivateTalent” on your favorite social platform and share the student stories with your network. The more we share stories, the more we can inspire talented students to attend and succeed in college.

The cornerstone of the campaign is the We Are UCI website, where students can learn more about the programs ATI has put into action at UCI — including the Student Support Initiative, the Summer Bridge Program, and the First Generation Faculty Initiative.

The website allows students and faculty to directly submit their own story, building a rich archive of Anteater narratives.

We are UCI is about people, not numbers,” says Iain Grainger, Director of UCI Media and Communications for the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. “Stories move people, and we are sharing the stories of students, faculty, and staff to highlight how they contribute to diversity on campus and access resources to help achieve their goals. We let our Anteaters speak for themselves and share their perspective in their own voice.”

The first story OVPTL shared was that of Anita Casavantes Bradford — an inspiring professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and History at UCI who believes that first generation students can thrive, not just survive. As part of the social media campaign, OVPTL shared the story of her struggles and successes across every platform. Read about her elementary Hot Dog Days for yourself on:

Our goal at OVPTL is to find and feature as many of these stories in the coming months as we can collect! We hope to promote these stories in order to create a sense of belonging among current and prospective low-income students.

In order to make this to happen, we invite you take this survey where we ask:

  1. How do you contribute to diversity on campus?
  2. How do you access the resources available at UCI?
  3. Can you share a story of adversity and how you overcame it?
  4. What advice would you give to high school students who are not sure if college is worth it?
  5. Do you believe that talent knows no bounds and can be found across all income  levels and zip codes?

Through this survey, we expect to gather and share student stories, and further solicit in-depth interviews to be featured across social media platforms. Consider this your call to action — every startup, faculty member, or student — in fact everyone out there has a story to share!

The campaign runs from September 18, 2017 to February 16, 2018.

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