Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold, recently hosted its Eureka! College Road Trip, with a group of local eighth-grade students spending Spring Break exploring college campuses between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Part of the organization’s Eureka! program, the College Road Trip is designed to encourage girls to envision themselves as college students and explore their interests and priorities when it comes to choosing a dream school.
Eureka! is a five-year, college-bound program that breaks gender stereotypes by encouraging girls to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Through engaging, hands-on activities, girls are able to discover and explore different career paths. Eureka! also includes fitness, nutrition and personal development activities that encourage girls to be healthy, strong and self-confident.
“Eureka is designed to better prepare our girls for college and the real world, while teaching teens the importance of setting their own paths and achieving their own goals,” said Victoria Juarez, executive director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. “Visiting some of the top universities in the state helps our girls envision themselves attending college and stepping foot on those grounds. And we are here to show them that their dreams can be a reality, and help with turning potential obstacles into accomplishments.”
Over the course of three days, the girls toured five college campuses, including UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, San Diego State University and the University of San Diego.
The college visits provided the girls with an opportunity to learn more about entrance requirements, financial aid, majors and student life through interactive scavenger hunts that encouraged them to consider not only academics, but also campus demographics, geography and culture.
In addition to the college experience, participants visited the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego and the Santa Monica Pier.
“Getting girls out of their comfort zones and into new and different places is key to the success of the Eureka! program,” said Jessica Wetzel, elementary and Eureka! programs director for Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. “In addition to STEM enrichment, Eureka! is focused on personal development and helping girls decide who they are and what they want, while giving them the tools to take healthy risks in getting there.”
Next summer, the same group of students will enter the externship component of Eureka!, where participants shift their programming to the workplace. After a week of training, the teens are offered an externship in their field of interest and work approximately 80 hours over four weeks in July. The program pairs externs with businesses throughout Santa Barbara County for this experiential work opportunity and the girls gain valuable job skills through hands-on mentorship, enabling them to apply their college goals to real world careers.
Girls Inc. of Carpinteria launched its five-year Eureka! program in 2012 to provide leadership and education enhancement opportunities for teen girls, beginning the summer before their eighth grade year up through the end of high school. The summer externship was launched last year for its third-year participants.
Business professionals interested in sponsoring a Girls Inc. Eureka! extern should contact Jessica Wetzel at [email protected] or 805.684.6364. For more information about the Eureka! Program, please click here.
Eureka! is a partnership between Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, UCSB’s Early Academic Outreach Program and Easy Lift Transportation. Program sponsors include Deckers Brands, ExxonMobil, Southern California Edison, Venoco Inc., the Williams Corbett Foundation and the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.
— Daniella Alkobi is a publicist representing Girls Inc. of Carpinteria.