Local Eighth Graders Pledge to Work Hard, Attend SOU After High School

(Ashland, Ore.) — The room was packed at Talent Middle School on Thursday evening as students and their families came to learn about “Pirates to Raiders,” a new partnership designed to open doors for Hispanic students.

The program forms an alliance with eighth-grade students, their families, the Phoenix-Talent School District and Southern Oregon University. Each member of the partnership agrees to participate in ensuring that these students take all the right steps over the next five years. If they do, they will be accepted to SOU.

“I’ve been envisioning a program like this ever since I came to Oregon,” said SOU President Mary Cullinan. “It really does take a village to help students get to college. This program creates that village. With Pirates to Raiders, these students can fulfill their dreams.”

Families are an integral part of Pirates to Raiders. They pledge to make sure their children regularly attend school, support their academic progress, attend Pirates to Raiders events with them and ensure they complete the program.

SOU and the school district provide mentorship, access to scholarship and financial aid information, transportation to Pirates to Raiders events and opportunities for students to learn about the university.

“A college degree is the gateway to middle-class jobs and incomes,” said Jonathan Chavez-Baez, SOU admissions counselor for minority outreach. “As educators, it is our responsibility to help these students and their families. The Pirates to Raiders program both provides structure and inspiration for students.”

On Thursday evening, students listened attentively as current SOU students spoke to them in Spanish about why coming to SOU has been so important to them and what goals they hope to reach.

“This is a powerful partnership,” Cullinan said. “Everyone is committed to these students’ success. Their success will make a huge difference to their families and their communities. The program could become a model throughout Oregon.”

To learn more about the program, contact Javier del Rio, Title III coordinator for the the Phoenix-Talent School District’s Office of Instructional Services at 541-535-1552, extension 306.

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