SCU Professors Help San Jose High Schoolers Experience College
By Ally O’Connor ’20
This past summer, 38 students from two Silicon Valley high schools were able to experience firsthand college courses on the Santa Clara University campus, all at no cost to them. The Community Initiatives for the Visual Arts (CIVA) Young Scholars program gives the high schoolers – many of whom would be the first person in their family to attend college – the opportunity to take college courses in art and writing taught by SCU faculty.
SCU art professors Kelly Detweiler and Pancho Jiménez and former SCU English professor Jeff Zorn created the CIVA Young Scholars program in 2012 to serve high school students who otherwise would not receive such advanced education in the visual arts. The program also gave students the chance to envision themselves as college students. The program is underwritten by a grant from the Hearst Foundation, an organization that has supported a variety of activities intended to enrich SCU’s artistic environment.
The high school students enrolled in five-week college courses that mimic SCU’s usual summer courses. The students took a variety of courses such as ceramics, printmaking, and writing, all taught by SCU faculty. English professors Amy Lueck and Margarita Levantovskaya taught the writing courses; Detweiler and Jiménez handled the art courses. The Department of Art and Art History hosted an exhibition of the students' work at the program's conclusion.
“It is one of the most rewarding things I do as a teacher,” says Detweiler. “Seeing what they have accomplished in five short weeks is amazing for us and for the students.”
The students also interacted with current SCU students and representatives from SCU’s Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid offices at lunchtime seminars. These sessions helped the high school students understand SCU’s application and acceptance process.
According to Jiménez, the program “serves the purpose of demystifying college and showing students that it is somewhere that they can succeed and belong.” In the past, many of the CIVA Young Scholars program participants later applied to SCU.
As they launched the program in 2012, Detweiler and Jiménez reached out to Downtown College Preparatory — a San Jose high school comprised primarily of potential first-generation college students. The professors recently expanded the program to include students from Cristo Rey High School in San Jose.
About the CIVA grant:
The Hearst Foundation awarded Santa Clara University’s Department of Art and Art History its first Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts (CIVA) grant in 2013. The current CIVA grant supports a variety of activities geared to enriching the artistic environment of the local community. These include stipends for students in summer internships at local arts organizations, faculty teaching at local K-8 schools, an on-campus summer arts program for local high school students, and acquisition of contemporary Bay Area art for SCU’s de Saisset Museum.