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UCR Dean Visits Local High School, Stresses Importance of College Education


UC Riverside Dean Visits Local High School to Stress Importance of College Education in the Sciences

Dean Thomas Baldwin addressed students at Ramona High School who are in a college preparatory program

(January 28, 2011)

Dean Thomas Baldwin addresses students at Ramona High School who are in a college preparatory program.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications. (More photos below.)Enlarge

Dean Thomas Baldwin addresses students at Ramona High School who are in a college preparatory program. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications. (More photos below.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Thomas O. Baldwin, the dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, took time out of his busy schedule to visit Ramona High School, Riverside, Calif., today, where he encouraged students to pursue a four-year college education in the sciences.

According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, released Tuesday, only 1 percent of fourth- and 12th-grade students, and 2 percent of eighth-graders, received top scores. Many students showed minimal science knowledge.

“Get all the education you can possibly get in your life because in the end it is all you can ever own,” Baldwin told the students, sharing advice his father had given him.

Baldwin addressed students in several AVID classes at Ramona High School, and was accompanied by two UC Riverside undergraduates (named “science ambassadors”), who also educated the Ramona High students on what it takes to succeed in a four-year university.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a college preparatory program designed to assist underrepresented students with their goal of attending a four-year university.



Ramona High School is in its 23rd year of participation in the AVID program, and is one of the most successful. From one section and 25 students, the school has grown to 16 sections and more than 525 students enrolled in the program. The school has been designated as a National Demonstration School for the AVID program and hosts visitors from around the world.

Baldwin advised the students to learn to communicate well – in both speaking and writing. “I write 12-14 hours a day, every day,” he said.

He stressed that time management is crucial for students at a university. For each hour spent in the classroom, he advised spending three hours studying outside the classroom. “Study all the time,” he said. “That’s the take-home message.”

Kim Vu, one of the science ambassadors accompanying the dean, agreed, noting that a typical day for her involved four hours of classes, two hours of tutoring, and two hours of research, with the rest of her time used for study and sleep.

“A good night’s sleep every day is important,” she said. “I socialize only on the weekends.”

Both Baldwin and Vu emphasized taking notes and group study.

“Writing notes helps to get ideas set in your mind,” Baldwin said. “Working together as a group is the best way to learn. That’s because explaining what you’ve learned to a study buddy helps you learn the subject better. Group-study skills you learn in high school will help you enormously at the university level.”

He encouraged the students to engage their teachers in “What if?” and “So what?” questions, and stressed the importance of becoming proficient in mathematics.

“Math, the language of the sciences, is often a stumbling block for university freshmen,” he said. “You need to be calculus proficient, calculus ready, if you want to be a scientist. English composition is another stumbling block for our incoming students.”

He spelled out the difference between a four-year liberal arts school and a research university for the AVID students.

“Faculty both teach and do research at a research university,” he explained. “To study science, the best way is to attend a university where faculty members are doing science research.”

Vu, a fourth-year biology student, advised the students to focus on physics, biology and chemistry classes. “These classes in high school helped me out at UC Riverside,” she said. “Another thing to remember is to pick your friends well.”

Agreeing with her, Baldwin said that choosing friends wisely is crucial to being successful at a university.

“Pick friends who share your passion for doing well,” he said. “And support each other. Don’t be a lone ranger.”
Dean Thomas Baldwin listens to a Ramona High School student in the AVID program.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Dean Thomas Baldwin listens to a Ramona High School student in the AVID program. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

Dean Thomas Baldwin talked to Ramona High students on what it takes to succeed in a four-year university.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Dean Thomas Baldwin talked to Ramona High students on what it takes to succeed in a four-year university. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

Dean Thomas Baldwin was accompanied by Enlarge

Dean Thomas Baldwin was accompanied by "science ambassador" Kim Vu (right), who is an undergraduate student studying biology at UC Riverside. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

Dean Thomas Baldwin advised the Ramona High School students to learn to communicate well – in both speaking and writing.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Dean Thomas Baldwin advised the Ramona High School students to learn to communicate well – in both speaking and writing. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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