School of Natural Sciences T-Shirts Motivate Youngsters to Pursue Their College Dreams
T-shirts from the School of Natural Sciences made it all the way to an elementary school classroom in Oklahoma early this year, where they were proudly worn by Stacy Lewis’ second grade class during “College Pride” Mondays, an effort to get the children excited and thinking about attending college.
“I never imagined I would get new shirts!” Stacy Lewis said about when she reached out to Lisa Silveira, Scholarship Coordinator here at UC Merced, asking for gently used t-shirts to give to her classroom to encourage them to think about college. Several UC Merced offices donated t-shirts to Stacy’s classroom, including the School of Natural Sciences. “My class did not feel like people believed they could succeed. There was a significant impact in their behavior and motivation after they received their UC Merced shirts”, said Lewis. In a school in which 100% of the students qualify for free breakfast and lunch, and in which a significant proportion of the students have experienced adverse circumstances in their young lives, Lewis reported that the t-shirts not only affected the students’ morale, motivation, and thinking about college, but the t-shirts even sent a message home to parents: “The parents of my students were thrilled. They felt like their children were being supported by people outside of their community who were invested in their success.”
Prior to receiving the shirts, Lewis had her classroom conduct a written assignment about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Then, they talked about ways to achieve their goals, which included working hard to do well in school and graduate middle and high school, and the options of college and trade schools to achieve their dream careers. When Lewis gave out the shirts as prizes to her several classrooms for the completed assignment, as well as for scholarly behavior, she said “They were ecstatic! They were so proud to wear their shirts. They told everyone around school that they got their shirts because they were becoming scholars and were getting ready for college.”
When the School of Natural Sciences reached out to Stacy in July enquiring about the impact of the shirts, she noted “I can honestly say the UC Merced T-Shirts were an amazing motivator for my Second Graders! I never dreamed we would receive the support we did... UC Merced was the only University that donated shirts to us. I did not attend UC Merced because it didn’t even exist yet, but I proudly wear a UC Merced shirt on College Pride Day!”