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New Start open to all students

JAKE LACEY/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Physiology senior Aldrich Sy uses a computer in the Multicultural Center's computer lab. The New Start program will now open its doors to all high school students for the first time this summer.
By Monica Warren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
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After 35 years of serving incoming low-income and minority students, 2005 will mark the first year the UA's New Start Summer Program will be open to all high school students.

Since 1969, New Start has helped thousands of students make the transition from high school to college. Originally started as a program for low-income and first generation incoming students, New Start is operated through the Department of Multicultural Programs and Services and has been serving minority students for years.

New Start Director Kendal Washington White said affirmative action rulings made in recent years by the U.S. Supreme Court have affected programs like New Start that use race as the qualifying factor.

She said the university and DMPS decided to open the program to all students to avoid any potential problems.

Washington White said this year will be used to reevaluate what type of student most benefits from participation in New Start.

The six-week program gives participants the opportunity to take a university-level course. UA students and New Start alumni serve as peer advisors and resident assistants and offer workshops on academic success and the ins and outs of the university.

In addition to the academic component of New Start, more than 100 students from outside of Tucson are able to live in a residence hall to experience life on campus. New Start students also participate in community service, a talent show and an involvement fair.

Washington White said that though every student admitted to the UA for next year received information about New Start, the racial makeup of the applicant pool is very similar to that of years past.

Patrick Bryan, New Start student recruitment and retention specialist, has been involved with the program for the past four years, both as a student and as an employee.

He said that though any student is now welcome to apply and to participate in New Start, "the focus will still be on helping students who will most benefit from the program."

Bryan said the program's focus is helping minority students and would continue to be so even if the number of non-minority students increases.

Education junior Rebecca Meza participated in the program in 2002 and has worked as a New Start peer adviser for the past two years. She said the fact that the program is now open to any student should be seen as a positive step.

"Everyone will benefit," she said. "(New Start) is not just for minorities."

Sean Rambaran, mathematics sophomore, said New Start is a good opportunity that should not be limited to minorities and that opening the program to all students is a good idea.

Sara Ramirez, an electrical engineering junior, said that while the transition from high school to college is difficult regardless of race, one of the most beneficial aspects of New Start is the opportunity to build a community of minority students. She said opening the program to all students could detract from its appeal.

"Losing that chance to build a community by opening the program to everyone could be detrimental," Ramirez said.

Washington White said one of New Start's greatest advantages is the sense of community participants experience and the friendships that develop, something that she said crosses racial lines.

"It's a ready-made family and support group," she said.

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