College of the Pacific Student Delivers Hope to Stockton Middle School
When Kyle Sasai learned that Stockton has one of the highest student dropout rates in the nation he was dismayed. When he heard that the number of students who graduate from high school and go on to college was even lower he decided that he was going to become a part of the solution.
Sasai has spent much of the last year developing HopeStreet, a program that came to fruition at noon on March 24, when Sasai and several other Pacific students delivered backpacks and encouragement to 64 eighth grade students at Cleveland Elementary.
HopeStreet is a program designed to encourage middle school students to receive their high school diploma and aim for a college degree. The backpacks filled with school supplies were presented to the students after Sasai, along with eight other Pacific students, spoke to the Cleveland students in small groups, giving them words of advice about high school, college and reaching for their dreams.
"I had worked on a similar project for the Richmond Rescue Mission while in high school," Sasai said. "When Mayor Ann Johnston spoke to the Legal Scholars about becoming involved in the community, I immediately thought about the benefits backpacks could bring to students in Stockton."
This is the first year for the HopeStreet program. Sasai reached out to those who had helped the Richmond Rescue Mission for donations of backpacks and supplies. The Pacific Legal Scholars plan to have fundraisers next year to help HopeStreet become self-sustaining and also allow it to expand to more schools in Stockton.
Sasai, 17, is a freshman studying Political Science in the College of the Pacific, and he is in the Pacific Legal Scholars Program, which works with the Pacific McGeorge School of Law to offer an accelerated honors law program. He credits much of the success of his HopeStreet project to the support he received from the Pacific Legal Scholars Program, particularly from his advisor, Dr. Dylan Zorea, and the program Director, Dr. Cynthia Ostberg.
"Members of the Pacific Legal Scholars Program were extremely loyal, involved, and encouraging through this process, and those 64 students at Cleveland Elementary were each able to feel the hope that materialized through the commitment and support of the Legal Scholars," said Sasai.
"The Legal Scholars Program, with its openness to support outreaches such as HopeStreet, is one of the primary reasons I decided to attend this school." Sasai plans to continue impacting the community through additional outreach projects.
"Having a personal backpack is one material object that can represent the seriousness required to be one of the Cleveland University Bound Scholars (C.U.B.S.)," said Heidi Mohammadkhan, Principal of Cleveland Elementary.
C.U.B.S., also representing the school's tiger cub mascot, encourages all students at Cleveland Elementary to attend college.