SBCC welcomed its incoming class of Promise grant recipients during a signing day event on Thursday, giving some students their first glimpse of the campus before the fall semester begins in less than two weeks.
The SBCC Promise program offers all local high school students enrolled in school districts between Gaviota and Carpinteria the opportunity to attend their first two years of college free at SBCC. The program is funded by the SBCC Foundation and was founded in 2016.
During an average year, the grant typically covers tuition for 600 to 800 students, according to SBCC officials.
Thursday’s signing day event took place outside the college’s campus store, where hundreds gathered to collect their books, supplies and a “Vaquero Pride” t-shirt. Lively music played as students picked up materials and chatted with representatives from the school’s enrollment and financial aid departments.
Elizabeth Stein, a student success coordinator for SBCC’s enrollment services, played a leading role in organizing Thursday’s event. Ms. Stein said the event was inspired by former first lady Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” initiative, which encouraged high schools to celebrate graduating students no matter what they chose next in their career, whether that be college, the military or entering the workforce.
Initially, local officials hoped to host the signing day event at the various local high schools this May, but those plans were sidelined due to the pandemic.
As she looked out over the group of students gathered for the celebratory event on Thursday, Ms. Stein told the News-Press that the goal of the signing day was to “instill pride” into the upcoming class ahead of the fall semester.
“(The event) is to get them excited, make sure that they know that they’re welcome here and that we want them here,” Ms. Stein said. “This is a great place, and they should be very proud of themselves.”
During the upcoming school year, the vast majority of SBCC’s classes will still be taught remotely, though some will be held in person on campus. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down campuses and moving classes online, Thursday’s event was the first opportunity some students had to be on campus in person before the fall semester begins, Ms. Stein said.
“(The pandemic) has been tough, especially for you know, our largest demographic, which is 18, to under 25-year-olds,” Ms. Stein said. “So, it’s been really tough for a lot of them. So just, you know, (this event) gives them a little bit of connection to the campus. Some of these students, this is their very first time coming to the campus store, because they’re just starting this fall.”
Jackie Urrutia was among the crowd of incoming SBCC students in attendance at Thursday’s event. Ms. Urrutia graduated from Carpinteria High School this year and will be attending SBCC as a Promise grant recipient in the fall.
Going into the school year at SBCC, she told the News-Press she’s grateful for the Promise grant and the opportunity it will afford her to begin her degree in finance for free.
“It’s so amazing for me that I get these first two years free,” Ms. Urrutia said. “And it really is so beneficial, like tremendously. And I’m really excited to start at SBCC. It’s a beautiful campus here.”
After the last year and a half of online school, Ms. Urrutia said she’s excited to meet new friends and students during her time at SBCC. The college will begin the fall semester on Aug. 23.