UC Santa Barbara’s Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) will host 450 high school juniors from six school districts Saturday, Feb. 8, for the 9th Annual Education, Leadership, and Careers Conference (ELCC).

Students will hear from keynote speakers Antonio Garcia, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District superintendent; Margaret Klawunn, UCSB vice chancellor for student affairs; and Mike Miller, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services.

The high-schoolers, who hail from Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties, will also participate in small-group sessions with leadership mentors from a broad range of fields and professions.

Afternoon panel discussions with UCSB undergraduate students will highlight a variety of topics, from the college application process and the availability of financial aid to campus life and academics.

The majority of those attending the conference are first-generation, low-income students who are enrolled in EAOP, a pre-college academic preparation program designed to increase college-going enrollment rates at all four higher education systems in California — UC, Cal State, California Community Colleges, and private and independent schools.

“The goal of the conference is to inspire and motivate high school juniors to stay on their path to college eligibility and keep the doors of opportunity open and available,” said EAOP Director Britt Ortiz.

“We want to show participants how all of these elements — education, leadership and careers — relate to each other, build on one another and impact a person’s lifestyle options and help shape their path to career success,” Ortiz said. “This is a culminating event for our EAOP high school juniors.

“We hope that by providing both professional and undergraduate perspectives we can help them to envision their success, and we hope that by the time students finish their day here they will truly feel that their dreams can come true with hard work, dedication, persistence and believing in themselves.”