Women's Distance Serves As Role Models

May 18, 2004

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's cross country team and Edenvale Elementary School teamed-up recently in support of the highly successful Adopt-A-College program, a life-long education program in the Oak Grove School District in San Jose, Calif.

Adopt-A-College was created over 15 years ago and was designed to help break a cycle of poverty and make a difference in young people's lives. Scholarship money was raised from local businesses, service organizations, individuals and the Whitney Education Foundation.

"Our student-athletes really enjoyed serving as pen pals throughout the past year as part of this program," said Santa Clara's women's cross country coach Tom Service. "Then, having the opportunity to finally meet the kids face-to-face was an exciting time. Our athletes had a great time and they have such a tremendous impact as role models to the youngsters in the Adopt-A-College program."

From the age of six, students who are selected to participate in the program set personal goals to go to college and establish a value of lifelong learning. Each fall, Edenvale School's classroom teachers describe to the students the benefits of being part of the Adopt-A-College program. Teachers and students discuss the importance of setting goals for academic success and beginning to think about attending trade school, technical school, community college or university after graduating from high school.

Students learn that if they graduate from high school and gain acceptance to a post secondary education program, they will be awarded a scholarship to help pay their first year's tuition.

In order to participate in the Adopt-A-College program, each class must make a formal application to the principal. This is done by letter, poem, song, dramatic or multi-media presentation. As applications are received, the principal announces to the schools those classes that are accepted into the program.

Throughout the school year, students correspond with college pen pals via letters, faxes, email and occasional telephone calls. These adult buddies encourage and model how to be successful academically and maintain positive citizenship.

The Santa Clara women's cross country team was introduced to the program by Service's wife, Barbara, who serves as an administrator in the Oak Grove School District. The squad wrote to the youngsters throughout the year then attended an event at Edenvale School recently to meet the kids and have a positive interaction.

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