(BOSTON, Mass.) — A spring break tour of Ivy League campuses for 30 Pacific students studying in San Francisco is a "step in the right direction," says Rev. Pausa Kaio Thompson.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction," Rev. Thompson told tautalatala from Boston. "There is a huge assumption that so-called elite institutions on the East are out-of-reach and unattainable."
Thirty students at the City College of San Francisco embark on a five-day tour of America's 'Ivy League' schools March 25, an initiative aimed at closing the achievement gap for VASA students at CCSF.
It is the only college tour of its kind, said Dr. David Ga'oupu Matthew Palaita, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at CCSF and Coordinator of the VASA Program.
"No one else does this," Dr. Palaita said via telephone from the 'City by the Bay'. "Only we do."
On Facebook, Palaita explains this is the second annual Spring Break College Tour for VASA, "an historic trip" that seeks to "advance transfer and educational opportunities for our Oceania and Pacific Islander communities."
Students will travel from California to five states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island to visit 10 East Coast campuses.
Universities listed on the tour are: Boston, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, New York, Princeton, Syracuse and Yale.
"As someone who has navigated the halls of Columbia and Boston University, I can firmly say that our community of brilliant students who tend to focus primarily on local institutions can, and do excel at higher so called elite institutions," said Rev. Thompson, a graduate of Kanana Fou Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) Theological College.
He is also an alumnus of Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York and recipient of the Ann and John C. Bennett prize from Auburn Seminary in New York for Social Justice and Activism, according to Samoa Planet.
Rev. Thompson is currently a graduate student at Boston University School of Theology, Division of Religious Studies.
He notes, "Exposing the young people of CCSF to these institutions, and the limited amount of Pacific students who attend is a move towards increasing our numbers."
Ivy League schools are considered to be the most prestigious of all colleges in the United States, according to bestcollegereview.org.
There are eight considered Ivy League: Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania.
"Of all institutions of higher learning, these elite schools are considered to be the most outstanding and the most sought-after in terms of acceptance and graduation," bestcollegereview.org states.
Rev. Thompson, who is among the Pacific Islanders on the East Coast helping to accommodate VASA, predicts: "Ten to fifteen years from now when our numbers increase at top tier schools in the Eastern U.S., I can say with confidence that the pioneering efforts of educators like David Palaita and the VaSa program of CCSF were an integral part of that success.”