On Feb. 7 and Feb. 21, 350 ninth graders will visit Pomona College each day for the Orange County AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Leadership Conference, which was organized in conjunction with the Pomona College Draper Center for Community Partnerships.

The students, who come from more than 20 high schools in Orange County, will learn about college admissions, the liberal arts experience, financial aid and finding scholarships, take campus tours, and attend two workshops on topics ranging from "From MLK to Kobe to Sotomayor to You" and "The Chemistry of Cooking" to "Lies My Textbook Told Me: Introduction to the Untold History" and "Dreamer and their Allies: Creating Pathways to College for AB540 Students."

This is the second annual visit to Pomona College for the Leadership Conference. Most of the attending students have not previously been to any small, private colleges and are mostly unaware of the wonderful opportunities and education at Pomona, according to Denise Harshman, instructional services coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education. "Our AVID students are most familiar with the big public colleges and universities in Southern California. Some will go [to schools] in the north, but not many. Because AVID is like a family, I think it will be good for the students to see Pomona. It has that small family atmosphere where I think our students would fit in."

AVID is a college readiness system for students in the academic middle, which provides the rigor and support to succeed in a four-year college or university. Most of the students will be first-generation college students and many belong to groups underrepresented in higher education.

Pomona College Trustee Emeritus Ranney Draper '60 is a long-time supporter of Orange County's AVID program and was instrumental in getting the conference and the students to Pomona.

The visit by 752 students is quite an undertaking for Pomona College, which has a student population of 1,587. In addition to staff form the Draper Center, the event required the participation of almost 30 students, faculty and staff from Pomona Colleges and its sister Claremont Colleges.