President Alexander Gonzalez speaks at local African-American church

Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez, speaks to the congregation of Antioch Progressive Church in Sacramento on Sunday.

Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez, speaks to the congregation of Antioch Progressive Church in Sacramento on Sunday.

State Hornet Staff

As part of the California State University African-American initiative to increase enrollment and graduation rates, Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez spoke at Antioch Progressive Church in Sacramento on Sunday for the ninth annual Super Sunday.

Held on Sundays throughout February, Super Sunday is a CSU program where all 23 campus leaders speak at various churches throughout the state to offer college preparation resources to African-American families.

“My message this morning is about opportunity,” Gonzalez said during the event. “I want everyone to know that a college degree is still within reach and that we at Sacramento State are here to help you achieve that dream.”

Super Sunday started in 2005, when Chancellor Charles B. Reed and Bishop Charles E. Blake organized community leaders to educate African-American families on the importance and benefits on having a college degree.

According to the California Department of Education news release, in the 2012 school year, 65.7 percent of African-American students graduated with their class, a 2.9 percent increase from the year before. However, despite the 3 percent jump, African-Americans are still about 13 percentage points below average.

With one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the state, African-Americans continue to be low in numbers at the CSU system.

According to the Office of Institutional Research, African-Americans only make up 6 percent of the student population at Sac State for fall 2013.  

CSU’s report on enrollment by ethnic groups shows that only 4.8 percent of African-American students are represented system wide.

“We believe it is not enough to just get into college, it’s about graduating and earning a college degree,” Gonzalez said.

Super Sunday is a call for students as early as middle school to challenge them in order to prepare them for college.

Church goer Yvonne Johnson was excited to see Gonzalez make an appearance.

“I think it is a good thing he is taking the time to come talk to our youth,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, he is able to inspire them to continue onto a higher education.”

Resources such as admissions, Educational Opportunity Program and financial aid were present to speak with parents and students on the steps they needed to follow to attend Sac State or any other university.

Director of admissions Emiliano Diaz, said he was there in support of the initiative.

“We are hoping to do a parent program here to teach parents on what they should be aware of in order to help their children go to college,” Diaz said. “And then, we will have [parents] visit Sac State.”

Church goer Shelia Massey said she was interested in obtaining information at the resource tables for her granddaughter.

“My granddaughter is currently a senior at Burbank Luther High school with a high GPA, and she wants to go to Sac State for the criminal justice program,” Massey said.

Gonzalez also invited middle school students and their parents to attend College Making it Happen, a college preparation workshop to be held in March.

“There’s no reason, not here in Sacramento, for your student or someone you know, or you, you want to attend college or the university, you can do it,” Gonzalez said.