Pierce Academic Outreach encourages achievement

High school is hard enough as it is: pimples, week-long relationships and learning how to drive are the usual hardships for the “typical student,” but that doesn’t seem to stop one student from accelerating her learning by attending college classes.

Mina Delavar is an 18-year-old Taft High School senior and a Pierce College student that is involved in the Pierce Academic Outreach program. About 2,500 students go through the Outreach program according to the director, Denny Thompson. Approximately 625 students are concurrently enrolled in various high schools and Pierce.

“It’s exciting because I’m getting a head start on life,” Delavar said. “I know where I’m going. It’s so liberating because in high school you’re kind of stuck, you don’t know what you want or what you’re working for, you’re just working and it doesn’t feel right.”

Delavar also is an alto and the vice president of the Taft Vocal Ensemble. She has the lead role in the musical “Pleasantville Lovin’ of 1969,” showing April 11 and 12.

She has taken several classes at Pierce over the past two years. One of them is English 101, where she and three other students met adjunct professor Fatema Baldiwala.

Baldiwala encouraged several students to apply for the The Associated Graduate Students of English (AGSE) conference, according to Vanessa Venner, another student who attends Taft and Pierce.

“We didn’t even know if we were going to be accepted because you have to be an undergrad to go to this conference, but because we were undergrads through the Outreach Program, I believe we had some leeway there,” Delavar said.

Delavar, Venner and two other students from Taft were selected to present their papers to other graduate and undergraduate students at the Intersections Conference.

“We were up against a lot of people,” Delavar said. “We had to write an eight page paper, then send in an abstract of 250 words from the paper. Based off of that abstract, the judge decided who would be chosen to present at the conference.”

The four students presented their papers at the AGSE Conference at California State University, Northridge on March 8.

“CSUN is my alma mater,” Baldiwala said. “As an English major I had applied every year for the AGSE conference but never got accepted until my final year of college. I heard through the grapevine that the judges were really impressed with the submissions of the four students.”

Delavar plans on attending CSUN after graduating from Taft to receive her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Communication Disorders program. She eventually wants to receive her doctorate’s degree in English literature so she can be a speech pathologist.

Also a singer and actress, Delavar participates in theater and choral programs at Taft.  Her favorite play is “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams because she feels that it relays a special message.

“Family first, definitely,” Delavar said about what the play means to her. “And even though something may feel right at the beginning, there’s no guarantee it will feel right at the end. It will change your perspective, at least it changed mine.”