Video: Local youth reach for the stars at Pacific summer academy
University of the Pacific's Prep USA–Reach for the Stars Academy is a groundbreaking program that prepares promising local youth for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields.
Part of Pacific's Beyond Our Gates community outreach, the Reach for the Stars Academy launched in 2011. It is administered by Pacific's Gladys L. Benerd School of Education in collaboration the School of Engineering and Computer Science, with support from the Stockton Unified School District, the Reaching for the Stars Foundation of alumnus and former astronaut José Hernández '85 and other community partners.
The 2018 cohort included about 125 students from 12 to 17 years old, who dove into hands-on learning experiences in math, physics, pre-engineering, aeronautics and related subjects that get them excited about STEM and cultivate abstract reasoning and critical thinking skills.
The program has a proven record of success. Participants consistently demonstrate improved scores on standardized logic and mathematics tests administered at the beginning and then at the end of the program each year.
And it's fun!
Many of the youth return year after year to build on their skills and knowledge and to be better prepared for college. In fact, just last fall, two members of the inaugural Reach for the Stars Academy cohort — Claryse Adams '21 and Mark Jimenez '21 — began as freshmen at University of the Pacific.
During a surprise visit on the last week of the program, Hernández passed on some personal inspiration, challenging the students to persevere, saying "That means never give up on yourself. Never, ever give up."