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Bridges’ link students to the future

Droves of high school students attending the second annual Bridges open house invaded Portland State University Thursday, Feb. 21. From 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. the hundreds of high school students made their way through workshops and campus tours.

The Bridges 2002 half-day workshop was designed for high school students from various ethnic backgrounds. The event was free and open to all high school students considering attending college.

Students were encouraged to pre-register before the event, but many students came without doing so.

The morning began with an introduction and welcome by Reiko Williams, Portland State University’s assistant director of admissions and records, and coordinator of the event.

Williams gave the students instructions and told them what to expect for the day.

Portland State’s President Daniel O. Bernstine also welcomed the high school students to the “student of color conference.”

“Portland State University embraces diversity,” Bernstine said.

Bernstine pointed out to the crowd that Portland State University is not only the largest university in Oregon, but also the most diverse.

The keynote speaker was Kevin Fuller, the founder of “Bridge Builders.” Bridge Builders is a local agency that helps young African American men become responsible citizens. Those who enroll in the program go through rites of passage to reach manhood.

Fuller is also the director of education for The Oregonian.

Fuller began the speech by asking the energetic crowd to stand up if they knew that they were going to attend college. Nearly every student stood up.

Fuller told the students about his own academic life growing up. Fuller was bussed from north Portland to the Lake Oswego school district as a child.

“Lake Oswego drained all the brother out of me,” Fuller said.

After he returned to north Portland to attend school, a teacher told Fuller he would be “nothing.” That teacher’s comment stuck with Fuller and he spent his academic career proving that teacher wrong. Fuller graduated from Harvard with a master’s degree.

Fuller pointed out that even with his prestigious degree he still reports to a person with a high school diploma.

“Everything ain’t fair,” Fuller said.

However, Fuller stressed that the quality of his life would not be the same if it were not for going to college. Fuller emphasized to students to “seize this opportunity.”

The students were divided into two groups – freshman and sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The groups had similar itineraries for the day that included seminars, campus tours, attending a resource fair and meeting faculty. There was also a raffle at the end of the day, and some students won various prizes.

The high school students met with current PSU students and staff. Workshops were available to help the high schoolers become more familiar with the processes involved in applying, attending and completing study at Portland State. The open house included essay-writing workshops with instructions and information about writing effective scholarship essays.