SAYS Says a Lot About College Signing

standing female student performs among large group around her
<strong>A student sings out at last year&rsquo;s SAYS Summit College Day.</strong>

Chancellor Gary S. May will join hundreds of students celebrating the commitment to attend college at a youth summit on campus this Friday (May 3).

As the University of California celebrates national College Signing Day marquee event with Michelle Obama at UCLA and activities on other campuses Wednesday (May 1), Davis is incorporating the event into its 11th annual SAYS Summit College Day.

College Signing Day celebrates high school seniors and transfer students — especially those from low-income, underrepresented and first-generation college-going backgrounds — who have committed to pursuing higher education.

“Higher education will help these students put their destiny in their own hands,” May said. “We want to do everything we can to celebrate their achievements and encourage them further.” In a morning presentation, May will speak about how education transformed his own life.

Leaders decided to combine the signing day and summit to bring greater awareness to the work of its outreach program SAYS, or Sacramento Area Youth Speaks.

About 800 middle and high school students are expected to attend the UC Davis event, and several campus units have teamed up to create a special experience. A “Senior Zone” in The Pavilion at the ARC will include a welcome by Gunrock, cheerleaders and others; photos taken against a special signing-day backdrop; loops of the UCLA event playing on large screens; and a lounge where students can talk with first-generation UC Davis students.

Seniors will be offered graduation stoles and UC Davis swag including T-shirts, hats, socks and pom-poms. Representatives of area colleges and universities will be available to talk to all participants.

Vajra Watson, director of research and policy for equity, and SAYS founder, said the summit is the culmination of the program’s year-round work. Active in 21 area schools and the broader community, SAYS uses critical literacy and spoken word performance poetry to move high-risk youth to and through higher education.

The summit itself will feature workshops on academic success, social justice and other topics; spoken word poetry and critical literacy activities; hip-hop experiences; inspirational speakers; and entertainment including an emcee and dance battle.

College Signing Day, now in its fifth year, is celebrated at more than 2,500 events nationwide. It is a flagship of Reach Higher, a college access and success initiative that former first lady Obama launched during her time at the White House.

The UCLA event — featuring celebrities and athletes — will recognize students’ academic achievements and offer guidance on how to make the most of their future educational opportunities, according to a UC news release. Better Make Room, a nonprofit that partners with Reach Higher, is scheduled to livestream the event on its Facebook page and YouTube channel from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

About 10,000 California students have been selected by schools, colleges, districts and community groups to attend the UCLA event, and thousands more will participate in the festivities at UC’s other undergraduate campuses.

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Julia Ann Easley, News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248,

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