C.H.A.M.P./Azusa Pacific School District/University event

Each year, the College Headed and Mighty Proud (C.H.A.M.P.) semester-long program introduces the idea of higher-education to nearly 700 fourth graders from six local schools in the Azusa Unified School District through activities designed to help younger students experience college life first-hand.

C.H.A.M.P. is a 21-year partnership between Azusa Pacific University (APU) and the Azusa Unified School District. Each year, elementary school children walk single-file through campus with big, excited smiles, taking in the sights of APU and getting educated about the college experience.

Upon program completion, the campus holds an official graduation ceremony. The event was attended by the APU community, families of the C.H.A.M.P.students, Azusa School District Superintendent, elementary school principals and area teachers. Students' names and "degrees" are announced as they walk across the stage to receive their certificates.

At this year's ceremony, a previous program graduate spoke about how the C.H.A.M.P.experience better prepared him for college (he now attends APU). Three students from each school also shared their experiences and how C.H.A.M.P., impacted their decision to attend college. Comments ranged from, "After being a part of C.H.A.M.P., I realized how amazing the Azusa Pacific campus was, and that made me want to go to college," to, "C.H.A.M.P. made me believe college was not only a possibility, but also an obtainable reality."

"On behalf of State Farm®, I was honored to be able to be a sponsor of a program that means so much to my community, my family and to me," State Farm Agent George Ottoson said. "The C.H.A.M.P. program shows these students, mostly from lower- income households, that college isn't just a dream, but an obtainable opportunity. If they stay focused and do well in school, they have resources available to make college a reality."

On behalf of State Farm, Agency Field Executive Wally Shao and Agency Field Specialist Irene Fehr were also a part of the graduation program

Paul Flores, Ph.D.- Director, Liberal Studies/Undergraduate Education K-8 Program; Associate Professor of Liberal Studies. Wally Shao, AFE-Foothills AFO, Irene Fehr, Foothills AFO, Judy Hutchinson, Ph.D.-Executive Director, Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research

"It is such an encouragement to the C.H.A.M.P. program — and that includes APU, the Azusa Unified School District and the community — when companies like State Farm support the educational dreams of the children of Azusa. We are deeply grateful." Dr. Judy Hutchinson, Executive Director, Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research, said.

"Since 1991, C.H.A.M.P has showed students and parents how to become 'College Headed and Mighty Proud'", Agent Ottoson added. "Many of us believe this has a major role in our area's reduced school dropout rates."