Cal State LA President William A. Covino speaks to youth at Crenshaw Christian Center on Feb. 25 as part of CSU Super Sunday. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

California State University, Los Angeles President William A. Covino delivered a message of opportunity to the youth of Crenshaw Christian Center as a part of the annual California State University Super Sunday.

“You can succeed in the CSU,” Covino told scores of teenagers gathered in the Youth Activity Center of the South L.A. church on Feb. 25. “You have to stay determined, keep focused, keep getting good grades, and stay in touch with us.”

 CSU presidents, trustees and administrators spoke to nearly 100 churches across the state as part of Super Sunday, a partnership between the CSU and African American churches throughout California. For 13 years, leaders have worked together to provide youth in underserved communities with the tools to succeed in higher education.

The seventh through twelfth graders at Crenshaw Christian Center listened attentively as Covino shared information about the CSU application process, financial aid and his personal experiences growing up in Connecticut and later in the San Fernando Valley.

“I was the first in my family to graduate from college and I came from a struggling, working-class background,” Covino said to the group.

Covino noted the success of accomplished Cal State LA alumni, such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters, former state senator and congresswoman Diane Watson, and Ayuko Babu, executive director of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. CSU graduates are making a positive impact in every field of endeavor, Covino said.

Cal State LA representatives provided children and families at Crenshaw Christian Center with information about admissions, financial aid and university support services. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

“How many of you have seen Black Panther?” he asked, referring to the blockbuster movie. Hands shot up in the air.

The director, Ryan Coogler, is a graduate of Sacramento State, a CSU sister campus, Covino said. Coogler’s parents are graduates of Cal State East Bay. “They’re a CSU family.”

Mignonette Bailey, youth minister at Crenshaw Christian Center, praised the work of Cal State LA and the CSU.

“We’re really happy to have [Covino] here,” Bailey said to the youth. “The information you get today is going to help you. It’s going to be relevant for your lives.”

Following the service, youth and their parents spoke with Cal State LA representatives who provided information about admissions, financial aid and university support services.

For more information about the initiative, visit the CSU Super Sunday website.