Around 1,000 college-bound students from across the Inland Empire will descend on UC Riverside as part of the first College Signing Day on the West Coast.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker for the main celebration at UCLA on May 1 while other UC campuses, including Riverside, will hold simultaneous events and livestream Obama’s speech.
High school students from more than a dozen school districts in Riverside and San Bernardino counties who are planning to attend college will be at UCR for the event, which will feature music, student performances and speakers.
“This is a celebration of our local students’ accomplishments, of them going to college,” said Cynthia L. Alvarez, a fellow with the University Innovation Alliance who is organizing the campus event. “We want to be the cheerleaders as they start their journey.”
College Signing Day is part of Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, celebrating the achievements of students committing to higher education just as National Signing Day does for athletes committing to a school.
Reach Higher chose the University of California to hold the 2019 celebration, its first on a West Coast campus. The event will be held on May 1 to coincide with the deadline to respond to offers of admission at most colleges and universities.
UCR’s festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center where students will arrive by bus. They will be treated to lunch and performances by Dancesport, a dance team, and Senryu Taiko, a drum group, both featuring campus talent.
Students will be given free swag such as T-shirts, notebooks, and pencil pouches with the College Signing Day logo. Buttons will be given to students who identify as first-generation college students. Attendees will be able to pose for photos at a “selfie station” with props.
The event will include a DJ playing music followed by two student speakers.
Alexander Brinkley, a second-year student majoring in biology and a science ambassador for the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, will serve as emcee.
Dominque Ambrosio, a fourth-year biochemistry major, will be the student keynote speaker. A first-generation student and transfer student from Riverside City College, she impressed Alvarez with her story about taking advantage of what UCR can offer.
Students will also hear from Jennifer Brown, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, and a keynote speech by artist and poet Nate Howard.
UCR will then join the rest of the campuses to watch a livestream of Obama’s speech and the musical performances at UCLA.