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One hundred percent of Nicholas Academic Centers’ students will attend college this fall

June 6, 2011
Dr. Henry Nicholas

Dr. Henry Nicholas, co-founder of Nicholas Academic Centers

All 60 of the graduating seniors at the Nicholas Academic Centers plan to attend college in the fall, a 100% rate that contrasts with 61% for Hispanic high school graduates nationwide, the Centers announced at their third annual graduation event.  Chapman University has been partnering with the Nicholas Academic Centers since 2009 by providing top faculty members to give academically rigorous lectures to the students as part of its “Visiting Scholar Series.”   In the first segment of lectures, in 2009-2010, NAC students heard Chapman professors discuss a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from the origins of mathematics to indigenous cultures. In 2010-2011,the Chapman lectures continued, with a lead-off lecture by Nobel laureate Vernon Smith, followed by other distinguished faculty members. 

The Nicholas Academic Centers introduce high school students from underserved communities in Santa Ana to a college academic environment, while strengthening ties with highly respected local universities.  Over the last two years, 94% of high school seniors who graduated from the Nicholas Academic Centers’ (NAC) after-school program and went on to four-year colleges are still enrolled in these institutions, with many excelling academically. This contrasts dramatically with nationwide trends. For example, according to the College Board, sophomore retention rates for all students are less than 80%, and only 46.8% of Hispanic college students graduate within six years.

The NACs’ graduation celebration, held June 1 at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, honored outstanding students from Santa Ana high schools who now attend some of America’s top colleges and universities, as well as current seniors who are headed to these schools in the fall. Of the 60 NAC seniors going on to college, 30 will attend four-year schools—14 to privates and 16 to public universities. Twenty-six seniors received multiple acceptances. Among the institutions NAC seniors plan to attend are Georgetown, Haverford, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and Chapman University.

“Our students exemplify the talent, resilience and drive necessary to succeed,” said Dr. Corina A. Espinoza, the Centers’ Executive Director. “These are the attributes that the Nicholas Academic Centers strive to foster with each student who comes through our doors.”

“The Centers work with hundreds of students and push them to achieve at a level they might not think possible,” said Dr. Henry Nicholas, co-founder and former CEO of Broadcom Corp., who partnered in 2007 with retired Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel to establish the Nicholas Academic Centers. “It’s a demanding program and it works.”

Two recent NAC graduates served as Masters of Ceremonies for the event—Ana Aguilar, Class of 2009, who attends Denison College in Ohio, and Alexis Rodriquez, Class of 2010, who attends Wabash College in Indiana.

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