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Community Engagement

Record Number of Students Will ‘Reach for the Stars’

Jun 13, 2013

A record number of underserved students will be taking part in an intensive science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, program for five weeks starting June 17 at University of the Pacific. The third annual Prep-USA Reach for the Stars Academy will attract 134 sixth- through ninth-graders this year, which is 34 percent higher than the year before.

The featured speaker at this year's program will be former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez '85, who is on the University's Board of Regents and helped develop the academy. Credentialed teachers and Pacific student mentors operate the program.

The program integrates topics such as problem solving, career opportunity awareness, research and study, teamwork, oral and written communication, and includes field trips. The curriculum helps prepare students for increased academic achievement in the future. Students are invited to participate based on aptitude, interest in STEM, California Standards Test scores, and teacher, principal and parent referrals.

Participating students are economically disadvantaged minorities who have historically been underrepresented in the STEM fields.

Key results of the academy are:

•         105 percent increase on PREP-USA pre- and post-tests

•         98 percent average daily attendance

•         94 percent retention rate

The academy's long-term outcomes match the 2011 PREP-USA national results, which include:

•         99.9 percent go on to graduate from high school

•         98 percent attend college  

•         74 percent of the college graduates are members of underrepresented minority groups


Bank of America is a new sponsor of the program this year and its focus on workforce education aligns with the academy's mission. The other sponsors this year are Stockton Unified School District, Jose M. Hernandez's Reaching for the Stars Foundation, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Prep-USA Reach for the Stars Academy is a groundbreaking program launched in June 2011 to prepare promising students for STEM careers. Prep-USA Reach for the Stars is part of the Tomorrow Project within President Pamela A. Eibeck's Beyond Our Gates initiative.