Summer honors academy helps Oakland youth get involved with science, math - J. Hinton, SMASH Scholar in Oakland Local
Op Ed by Joshua Hinton
Fri, 2 Sep at 6:16am
am Joshua Hinton and I am a senior at Oakland Military Institute,
College Prep Academy. Going to school in the inner-city is challenging
considering that my school district lacks a strong education system and
funding for essential supplies to make learning more effective. Oakland
definitely lives up to its alarming reputation of violence, drugs, and
various other distractions, but those factors give me a great incentive
to strive to be successful. I make sure I work very hard at whatever I
do because nothing will be given when coming from such an environment.
But, I shouldn’t have to face this alone. Luckily, I was accepted into, and attended the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), a program that gives high achieving low-income youth of color the opportunity to do high level math and science during the summer, and also gives them a college experience. I lived on the UC Berkeley campus for five weeks straight, for each of three summers. I got to participate in rigorous courses that were never available to me before. Also, I learned a substantial amount of information in my classes in such a short amount of time. Most importantly, I was surrounded by peers of color that strived to excel in an academic aspect, which is something I had never been exposed to. In my opinion, not as many people of color get early exposure to that kind of college experience; it can be difficult for them to succeed even if they do get to college.
I believe SMASH benefited me very much as a young male of color. Participating in SMASH has immensely enhanced my college application and thus my opportunity to be selected to attend a four-year university. Considering the fact that college attendance and admission are low for people of color, I am pushing myself to obtain a diverse and competitive application.
Aside from college, SMASH helps create a sense of responsibility. Responsibility is a key intangible value that not a lot of people possess. Unfortunately, teenagers aren’t well known for making responsible decisions and actions, but SMASH has helped me establish a stronger sense of responsibility because I was accountable for balancing my work with fun, just as I would in a college atmosphere.
Due to the confidence I built in SMASH, I now look forward to exploring the world of biology and help advance it through the math and science information I will be provided in college. I believe that my contributions to the world of science will be valuable and will make SMASH’s investment in me worthwhile.
So when I heard about this new CA Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, I got excited to think that they might help other people of color have the same kind of experience I had with SMASH. I believe it’s worth investing in these kinds of programs because they encourage more men of color to do well in school in order to not only get in to college, but utilize the college education to make a significant impact. After my experience at SMASH, I feel much more competitive as a college applicant, confident as a student and comfortable with being independent and responsible.
All in all, if the Select Committee can expand programs like SMASH around the state, they could make many more people of color excited to learn and ready to contribute and compete in college and beyond.
I hope that they and all Californians will see young people of color like me as vital to the state’s future. If they do see us that way, then all Californians will see the benefits of helping to make sure young men of color get the same chance as others to grow up healthy, to get a good education and to make positive contributions to their communities.
About Joshua Hinton
Joshua Hinton is a senior at Oakland Military Institute, College Prep Academy.