Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow

Zhanserik Temirtashev, Managing Editor

California State University, East Bay hosted Girls Incorporated of Alameda County at the Hayward campus as part of an annual summer partnership, culminating in an ice-cream social at the Pioneer Heights on Thursday, July 14, 2022. 

Girls Inc. and CSUEB have maintained a long-standing collaboration under the Eureka Program, wherein a group of middle- and high-school girls across the East Bay area are given an opportunity to attend university-level classes and immerse themselves in a college environment. “We chose CSUEB because it is a good school and it is local,” stated Maria Esquivel, the Girls Inc. Program Coordinator over a brief respite. 

The summer Eureka Program is intended to help first-generation girls from underserved East Bay communities, by preparing them for college. A total of 40 applicants are accepted based on academic merit and family background, requiring a 2.7 GPA and a mandatory interview with the program supervisor. The selected girls are enrolled in the Eureka Program for a five-year commitment, starting from seventh and ending in 12th grade. 

The Eureka curriculum primarily revolves around STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. “There aren’t a lot of women in STEAM,” explained Esquivel, emphasizing the importance of exposing and guiding girls towards underrepresented careers. 

Aside from academics, the Eureka Program strives to equip girls with the necessary skills, knowledge, and opportunities to succeed in college. The program provides self-defense classes, swimming lessons, comprehensive health education, a thorough introduction to college life through the exclusive Sisterhood class, and internship opportunities. “Some of our ninth- and tenth-grade girls are interning at CSUEB, supporting [campus] staff,” noted Esquivel. 

Upon graduation, girls are given laptops and are made eligible for up to $25,000 in scholarships. 

“There aren’t a lot of non-profit organizations that help out girls,” stated eighth-grader, “Rookie” Genesis Flores from Northern Lights School in Oakland, Calif.

Flores first learned of the program from her cousin, who is a Eureka alumna and a full-ride scholarship awardee. “Eureka helped her achieve what she wanted to achieve,” Flores claimed. While she was unsure about joining the program at first, Flores’ parents—aware of the help that the Eureka Program offers—encouraged her to apply. “I ended up enjoying it a lot,” she admitted. 

According to Flores, the Eureka Program “genuinely prepares us for the real world” through practical skill training and STEAM-based, community-focused problem solving. “That’s what Eureka really focuses on: teaching us things that our schools aren’t teaching us,” said Flores. 

Oakland High’s ninth grade Jannice Lee said that her favorite aspect of the program is the quality of instruction. “[Teachers] encourage us to be ourselves, be more outgoing,” Lee conveyed. As a budding nurse and a recent scholarship recipient, Lee is excited about exploring her career options under the watchful guidance of Eureka’s teachers, while indulging in classic summer fun for the first time since the start of the pandemic. “You can’t throw a football over Zoom,” joked Lee, adding that “this year has been a lot more fun because there are more things to do and we can interact with people.”

Girls Inc. of Alameda County is funded by grants and donations. If you are interested in supporting the mission and financially contributing to the program, please visit the ‘Ways to Give’ page on the Girls Inc. website. 

For more information regarding available programs and application information, click here