Students from Orange High School (OHS) are frequent visitors at Chapman, taking tours and hanging out in Starbucks. But Chapman’s relationship with OHS is more than that of friendly neighbors.
The Simon STEM program is a six-year process that begins during a student’s junior year while attending OHS and continues through four more years at Chapman University. While still in high school, the selected students receive a computer, academic support, and hands-on college-level research experience, including retreats at Chapman University and other academic institutions. The program places a high priority on public speaking and includes many speaking opportunities as well as other areas of support. Following the successful completion of high school, the Simon STEM Scholars receive a scholarship to Chapman University to pursue undergraduate majors in STEM-related disciplines. The scholarship covers full tuition and room and board.
Kevin Alvarado is a Simon Scholar who is currently a sophomore studying chemistry. He’s found the program helps support OHS students, especially in the transition period between high school and college. “I had the opportunity to meet many staff members who helped familiarize me with a lot of the things that Schmid offers prior to coming to Chapman. This was very comforting since I was very nervous, going to Chapman University from Orange High School. It was a huge change!”
At Chapman, Alvarado has continued to be involved in the program by mentoring high school Simon Scholars. “I chose this role because when I entered the program, I did not have another student who I could ask questions to. I want to be the student that I needed when I first entered the program. Being reached out to by another peer is a very fulfilling feeling, and I feel that it provides a lot of encouragement to the younger students.”
When mentoring other students, Alvarado draws on his life experiences. “I simply answer every doubt and question they have to the best of my ability, whether it’s in relation to a course I took my freshmen year or how my research has helped me choose a focus.” Over the past year, he has also focused on helping students find resources to help them with challenges related to the pandemic.
Alvarado is planning to continue his education after completing his degree at Chapman. “My ultimate goal is to become a physician assistant. I plan to continue with my career at Chapman and enroll in their PA program, or to continue to a chemistry graduate program. The Simon Scholars program has given me the opportunity to explore many different research fields (marine biology, chemistry, & plant biology, etc.) by working alongside several different professors from Schmid. This has given me the opportunity to explore the different research fields available that I hadn’t experienced before, and through these experiences, I became very interested in chemistry research.”