SDSU alumna Tyree Dillingham organized an on-campus overnight camp to thwart high school dropouts through college and career preparation.
CampUs took place from July 5-10.
Bringing CampUs to Campus
Cultural Competency Certificate Program
CampUs featured college preparation workshops, including SDSU’s Cultural Competency Certificate Program, led by Tanis Starck (left), director of SDSU’s Office of Intercultural Relations and Cross Cultural Center.
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Growing up, Tyree Dillingham’s mother always stressed the importance of philanthropy and community involvement.
They fed the homeless, collected cans for food drives and orchestrated charity fundraisers. After vacations, the Dillinghams brought home hotel soaps and donated them to a local battered women shelter.
After graduating from SDSU in 2004, Dillingham worked in the private business sector, but she always tried to embody her mother’s mentality. When Dillingham wasn’t contributing to the community, a feeling of emptiness emerged.
“It actually took me awhile for me to realize that the void in my life was the fact that I wasn’t doing something to make my community stronger,” she said. “When I finally had that epiphany that I really needed to have that charitable component in my life, I never really let it go.”
In 2010, after working in the California governor’s office for six years, Dillingham was named executive director of the After-School All-Stars San Diego affiliate, which provides after-school programming for low-income urban students at 20 county schools.
“My mission … is to help kids who are less fortunate,” she said. “And it’s truly an amazing feeling.”
CampUs comes to campus
Following a successful After-School All-Stars pilot program at Loyola Marymount University last year, Dillingham partnered with SDSU’s Office of Intercultural Relations and Cross Cultural Center to bring CampUs to campus.
Aimed at preventing high school dropouts by preparing eighth graders for ongoing educational and career success, the five-night, six-day camp featured college preparation workshops, including SDSU’s Cultural Competency Certificate Program, which teaches students about cultural diversity and service-learning opportunities to promote cultural awareness within their communities.
“We are trying to prepare for the future today by equipping our younger students — in addition to our college students — with the ability to not only understand different cultures, but embrace them and utilize them … to work with the world tomorrow,” said Tanis Starck, director of SDSU’s Office of Intercultural Relations and Cross Cultural Center.
“We’re hoping they’ll take this back to their neighborhoods that are really surrounded by a lot of trials and tribulations,” added Starck, who led the program. “Maybe they can go back to their community and help break some of the cycles that are perpetuating themselves.”
… it’s so interesting and amazing to see these bright minds realize that they can achieve their dreams.
The camp also incorporated career panels in which students spoke with notable San Diegans, including SDSU alumnus and Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill founder Ralph Rubio.
“I’m just trying to encourage and inspire them in any way to continue with their education,” he said.
The 50 student participants, who stayed in one of the on-campus dorms, also played sports with former and current SDSU student-athletes, including Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Robert Ortiz, D.J. Gay and Tim Shelton.
“I think this camp has encouraged me a lot to want to go to college and to have a successful career,” said Iliana Gamez, a 13-year-old entering eighth grade at local Montgomery Middle School.
Ultimately, Dillingham was thrilled with the camp's success.
“Watching them grow in just five short nights with us at San Diego State and hearing their stories and how we changed their lives — it’s like nothing else,” she said.
“When you really watch them be challenged and changed … it’s so interesting and amazing to see these bright minds realize that they can achieve their dreams.”