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Community Commentary:

Seeing is believing for the college-bound set

May 23, 2009|By Trevor Murphy

For five years, one of the most rewarding parts of my job as executive director of Save Our Youth (SOY) has been taking our students on college tours.

This April, 12 SOY scholarship students and two SOY staff road-tripped to Northern California during spring break. Students were invited from our scholarship program. We distribute thousands in monthly financial incentive checks to low-income youth who put effort into their academics

The first stop on our tour was Sacramento, where we stayed in an 1895 mansion turned youth hostel. The former funeral home has an eerie feeling, and the boys and girls each had their respective dorm rooms. The next morning, we woke early to make a VIP tour of the state capitol given by the office of Assemblyman Van Tran. The state capitol stood grand and majestic amid the other government buildings in downtown Sacramento. The enjoyed a great tour of the building, the Assembly and Senate chambers and even were among the first people to take pictures of the newly unveiled statue of a bear outside Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office.

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After the tour, we piled in our car to visit UC Davis en route to San Francisco. A cold front was making its way from the Bay Area so we had to duck into libraries and classrooms as the rain fell and let up. There was one student particularly interested in the School of Veterinary Medicine, so we schlepped in the rain to that department and lucked into a surprise opportunity: watching with graduate students an operation on a dog’s knee. Lab coats, masks and all!

Later that afternoon, we drove to San Francisco, where we stayed in a youth hostel near Union Square. We stay at hostels because they usually only cost about $20 a bed per person and we can book a dorm room for the boys and one for the girls. Also, the communal aspect of hostelling in regards to respecting others who might be sharing your space is a good experience for those who might be living in a dorm room in the near future.

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