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Over 100 west Salt Lake University of Utah graduates will be honored at University Neighborhood Partners 4th annual “Partners in the Park” kick-off evening on Tuesday, June 12 from 6:00p to 8:00p at Jordan Park (1060 S 900 W). University of Utah Vice President for Institutional Advancement Fred Esplin will offer congratulations to the 117 University of Utah 2007 graduates. Also recognized are six West High School graduates who participated in a UNP partnership at West High that are attending college in the fall. Utah House Representative David Litvack is scheduled to attend.

“Partners in the Park” is a free, community-wide event that connects west side families with University of Utah community members through activities that raise awareness of and access to higher education. Held seven Tuesday nights throughout the summer, the first evening this summer will be dedicated to the group of west Salt Lake graduates because “we want to celebrate and honor these graduates’ achievements and what they have to offer to this community. We want to recognize the families and loved ones who have supported them. We are a stronger community because of them,” said Rosemarie Hunter, Ph.D, director of UNP.

The program for the evening, planned by Neighborhood House, the University of Utah Alumni Association, and The Hinckley Institute, includes a graduation ceremony and remarks by Vice President Esplin. Smith’s Food and Drug Stores has donated a cake honoring the graduates. Mariachi America will perform for an hour. Other treats include a chicken dinner, a cotton candy machine, and a snow cone machine. Activities include face painting, bingo, and a raffle.

Amy Code, Political Programs Coordinator for the Hinckley Institute of Politics said the goal “to get students and citizens involved in their communities and engaged in the political process” is one the Hinckley Institute shares with UNP. Partnering now for the third time with UNP on Partners in the Park, the organization hopes “to recognize and acknowledge west Salt Lake City graduates and let them know how valuable and important their accomplishments are,” she said. Code also mentioned through their participation they hope “to learn of ways we can engage their community and their youth in the political process in hopes of building and training future community leaders.”

Neighborhood House Development Director Kelly Johnson said Partners in the Park is both an “exemplary idea of community,” with the added benefit of reciprocal learning. “Neighborhood House and the University of Utah both enhance these festivities by showcasing our roles, responsibilities and prospects to bring higher education into the lives of our diverse community. We look forward to teaching the University about us and our neighborhoods as much as we look forward to learning from the University about its neighborhoods and potential,” she added.

All 123 graduates reside in one of the seven west Salt Lake neighborhoods UNP serves. For the past three years, the number of University of Utah graduates originating from the ethnically diverse neighborhoods of Glendale, Rose Park, Westpointe, Jordan Meadows, Poplar Grove, State Fairpark, and People’s Freeway has been less than 100 per year. Since 2003, UNP has forged campus-community partnerships among residents and community organizations invested in these neighborhoods that focus on developing sustainable strategies that will increase higher education as a personal option for youth living on Salt Lake City’s west side.

The West High School partnership, “LEAP to the U” is an example of such a partnership UNP helps to support. Carolan Ownby, director of the University of Utah LEAP program described “LEAP to the U as designed to encourage potential first generation students to think of college as a realistic possibility in the future.” This year marks the first cohort of seniors to participate in the program which teams high school seniors with college students. This year, the college mentors prepared a series of workshops at West High for the high school students on topics such as filling out a college application to public speaking. In November, the LEAPers toured the campus, residence halls, and bowling alley in the student union. Six of the graduating seniors who went through LEAP to the U will be attending college in the fall have been personally invited to Partners in the Park graduation celebration.

The following dates, times and addresses are for the remaining six “Partners in the Park” events:




June 12 Jordan Park 1060 S 900 W
June 19 West Point Park 1100 N 2000 W
June 26 Poplar Park 800 S 1200 W
July 10 Sherwood Park 400 S 1500 W
July 17 Poplar Park 800 S 1200 W
July 31 Northwest Multipurpose Center 1300 W 300 N
August 14 Riverside Park 739 N 1400 W

University Neighborhood Partners:

Geneva Liimatta, Partners in the Park program coordinator (801) 972-3596, g.liimatta@partners.utah.edu

Rosemarie Hunter, UNP Director, (801) 972-3620, r.hunter@partners.utah.edu