Mix of age groups, nationalities drawn to summer programs at UC Santa Cruz

Summer is the season for nontraditional students at UC Santa Cruz.

Fulbright scholars and professionals from around the world are being introduced to the United States-and English-in University Town Center downtown; youngsters on campus are perfecting their cheers and honing their computer skills; and the campus is playing host to a variety of academic conferences.

Of the 11,000 summer conference participants, 31 percent are attending pre-collegiate academic programs, 45 percent are in youth sports camps and 24 percent take part in adult conferences sponsored by UC Santa Cruz or professional associations.

"Our conferees always say they love our location," said Conference Services assistant director Martha Keeler. "The community is a great draw to them as well."

All this activity grosses more than $4 million for the campus during the 10-week season, June 25-September 2. Summer revenue keeps room and board rates down in residence halls and apartments during the regular academic year.

Summer is an especially busy time for UCSC Extension's English Language and International Programs Department. More than 14 Fulbright Scholars are enrolled in pre-academic orientation programs, and more than 30 Humphrey Fellows-midcareer professionals in a range of fields-receive a three-week crash course in American academia before heading off to campuses around the country. While there is a heavy emphasis on fine-tuning English skills, the program also eases participants into American culture. The students are matched with community mentors and some will take part in a community forum at the Louden Nelson Community Center on July 31 and in August to share information about their Humphrey projects and their home countries.

"Through their mentors, they meet different people in their fields and start a new network in the United States," said Susan Miller, director of English Language and International Programs.

The Fulbright Scholars represent a wide array of disciplines, and Humphrey Fellows include specialists in everything from journalism to HIV/AIDS policy and come from nations as varied as Bhutan, Tunisia, Brazil, Iraq, and Congo.

"The fellows always rave about their experiences here," Miller said.

Adding to the international atmosphere is a group of Mongolian government officials and a number of students from other Asian countries, including Japan, Taiwan and Korea, all getting language and cultural education.

UC Santa Cruz also plays host to a number of academic conferences. New this year is Biogeomon, a biogeochemical research conference co-sponsored by UCSC and Villanova University.

For the younger set, there are academic camps, cheerleading and sports camps, as well as a camp for aspiring rock musicians. Taking full advantage of UC Santa Cruz's location, the iD Tech Camps even offer a "Surf & Tech" program where students spend half the day surfing and the other half in the lab creating a web site or video game.

For additional information, check the Conference Services website.

In between all the visitors' activity, UC Santa Cruz's summer session is well under way. The first summer session began June 26 and ends July 28. The second session runs July 31 to September 1, and there is also an intensive eight-week Spanish class, a seven-week course, 10-week courses, and independent field courses for undergraduates.

Additional information is available by calling (831) 459-2524 or checking the summer session web site.