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300-Plus High School Students Graduate From UCSD’s Academic Connections

300-Plus High School Students Graduate From UCSD's Academic Connections

Photo caption: Students at UC San Diego Extension's Academic Connections work on their compu...

Photo by Dwane Brown

Students at UC San Diego Extension's Academic Connections work on their computers, July 31, 2015.

Closing the education achievement gap is the goal of a summer program at UC San Diego Extension.

Academic Connections offers high school students, who have a 3.3 GPA or higher, a three-week program designed to help them prepare for the college experience. More than 370 participants will graduate from the program on Saturday at the Price Center.

The program offers hands-on educational opportunities in subjects such as science, engineering and math while providing college credit.

"Students not only have an opportunity to learn and have a vision of what they can do when they go to college, but also that confidence of how to work with others who are different," said Ed Abeyta, director of pre-collegiate and career preparations at UC San Diego Extension. "In many cases, these students haven't even been out of their own neighborhood."

Juan Martinez, 15, came to the program from Imperial Valley where the unemployment rate is 21 percent. He wants to study engineering and said the program has taught him how to pay for tuition among other things.

"I thought it would be a good thing to do during my summer," Martinez said. "Living in Imperial Valley, most of the parents are farmworkers or in the fields. And money is sometimes an issue, therefore, you have to find out how to pay for it."

The graduation for the program comes as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week said the country needs to invest more in higher education to help students complete their degrees.

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