Super Sunday

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
Super Sunday

Trinity Baptist Church
Los Angeles, CA
February 23, 2014

Reverend Tunstill, it is a privilege and an honor to be in the heart of Los Angeles at Trinity Baptist Church. Thank you for your kind introduction and invitation.

Super Sunday is a time when leaders across the California State University (CSU) visit African American churches throughout the state to promote the value of a college education. This year we are visiting 110 churches in total.

This event is just the first in a year-round commitment to get more of our African American students to college. Our year-round efforts include:

  • Summer Algebra Institutes for our middle school children;
  • A Super Saturday College Fair;
  • Train the Trainer workshops for church educational liaisons;
  • A Parent Training Program with Parent Involvement Centers in churches…

We’ve got a lot going on that we want to share with you. But maybe the best way to explain it is to give you the one-minute version:


Praise your Lord.

Go to school.

Stay in school.

Go to college.

Finish college.

Get a job.

Live happily ever after.

Give back and forward.

Let me expand on that just a bit with few insider tricks for college success.

The most important piece of advice is that a child needs to be reading at their grade level or better to do well in school. Reading is an important marker for success.

The other piece of advice I have is to make sure that your students take Algebra. Students who take a year of Algebra qualify for and get into college, period.

So as parents, grandparents and guardians, please read to your children, and insist that they take Algebra to facilitate graduation from high school and entry into college.

We also have a lot of work to do to expand awareness of college opportunity and financial aid.

I just returned from a White House College Opportunity Summit: “Taking Action to Expand College Opportunity.” The President and First Lady presided over this meeting and they challenged all the educators, philanthropists and business leaders to do more.

Our universal goal is to keep costs down while raising quality and access.

It’s a sad fact that those students who come from families with the lowest 20 percent of income have only a 5 percent chance to make it to the top income bracket. Amazingly, that chance increases four-fold if the young person has a college degree.

We also know that the fear or reality of cost can create a barrier for students from low income households to even apply to college. Clearly that is something that we talk about and understand better.

  • Did you know that undergraduate students who qualify for financial aid and whose families make less than $70,000 per year may receive financial aid resources from the state and campuses, coupled with federal grants, which practically allow them to attend college tuition-free?
    • ✓ In fact, over 50% of our undergraduate students fall into this category
  • When it comes to paying federal taxes, there is also a $2,500 tax credit for college costs...which is huge.

Even more shocking – The Education Trust West has found that only about half of California’s high school seniors applied for federal and state financial aid last year -- leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

That money is waiting for you and your children.

If you, a family member, a friend or neighbor are weighing the possibility of going to college this fall and want to be considered for financial aid you MUST submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (called the FAFSA).

Hear this: The drop-dead deadline is March 2nd. You have to get this form in to qualify for financial aid – and there are advisors at the CSU table that you’ll find on your way out of church today.

No Form = No financial aid. It is a must-do by March 2nd .

I hope that after the service you will stop by the CSU table and pick up the “How to Get to College” poster and other materials, including the FAFSA.

Talk with our application experts and to our CSU alums.

We have a number of alumni and employees here today to inspire and support you in your goals. Will all of these good folks please stand?


I hope that you will be inspired by all of these one-time students whose dreams came true.

Let me finish up my comments with these four facts:

  • There is a place for everyone at the CSU who has the aptitude and is willing to do the work.
  • We want to be partners with you in the success of your children and grandchildren, and even yourself, if that is your goal.
  • Whether you want to go to a small, rural campus or a large urban campus…or earn your degree essentially on-line…whether you want to stay at home or go far away…we have something amazing in store for you.
  • Last but not least – it is never too early or too late. Last year the oldest graduating senior was over 70 years young, and the youngest was only 16 years old.

Many of our older students have been inspired by Cal State L.A. student Candace Ingram, who is a single mother of three daughters. After she raised her children they encouraged her to go to school and earn her bachelor’s degree.

At Cal State L.A. she became an outstanding student who went on to win the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study English literature in the United Kingdom. When she returns to L.A. later this year to finish her teaching credential, she hopes to become a high school teacher.

I know that there are many more Candace Ingrams out there ready to spread their wings and follow their dreams.

In the words of our beloved Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It takes each of us, and it takes all of us.

Thank you, Reverend Tunstill for allowing me the privilege of engaging with your congregation this morning. May God bless each of you and all of you!

Thank you.