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Santa Rosa students get a taste of college

  • Steele Lane Elementary students Xitlalit Hernandez, left, Maggie Martinez, Jose Larromama, and Dana Perez get autographs from SSU mascot Lobo the Seawolf during Ticket to Success at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif., on February 7, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Karla Miranda-Estrada is a basketball-playing fourth-grader who before Friday night had never set foot on a university campus.

But Miranda-Estrada and nearly 200 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from both Steele Lane and Lincoln elementary schools — some of them getting their first experience on a college campus — spent the evening at Sonoma State University, taking in the men's and women's basketball games, meeting coaches and getting autographs from Seawolf student athletes.

Miranda-Estrada was sold on college before the end of the women's game.

Ticket To Success At SSU


"Now that I've seen this place, I want to come here," Miranda-Estrada said between plays at the women's game that the Seawolves lost to Cal State Los Angeles 66-54.

That's the idea, according to Mike Ogg, SSU's director of business operations for the athletic department, who last year launched Ticket to Success with Steele Lane Elementary School.

That fledgling partnership has now grown into a program that brings fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from all 11 elementary school in Santa Rosa City Schools to the Sonoma State campus for a tour, athletic contests, dinner and meetings with athletes from multiple SSU squads.

The younger students get a glimpse of the college experience not normally included in campus tours, and the student athletes gain an understanding of their position as role models, Ogg said.

"It makes them feel like they are mentors in the community; these kids look up to them," Ogg said.

"Using a co-curricular activity to plant that seed about going to college was kind of unique," he said.

Since September, the program has brought more than 500 students to campus.

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