Groups connect PSEO students to campus

Many clubs and cultural centers welcome high school members.

Second year PSEO student and high school senior Brandon Luu, center, fills up water balloons with other members of their student group as a part of Asian-American Student Union's picnic, Friday afternoon outside Comstock Hall. Luu was introduced to AASU by a family member and is now an outreach officer for the student group.

Bridget Bennett

Second year PSEO student and high school senior Brandon Luu, center, fills up water balloons with other members of their student group as a part of Asian-American Student Union’s picnic, Friday afternoon outside Comstock Hall. Luu was introduced to AASU by a family member and is now an outreach officer for the student group.

Hailey Colwell

High school senior Sydney Tran has never been part of a student group at her school.

Now, she’s in charge of business relations for the University of Minnesota’s Asian-American Student Union.

Tran is part of the University’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options program, which allows high school juniors and seniors to take classes for both high school and college credit.

Although PSEO students aren’t conventional college students, a number of them connect with campus culture by participating in student groups.

La Raza Student Cultural Center officer Daisy Hidalgo — a former PSEO student — said PSEO students shouldn’t be prevented from joining groups just because they’re in high school.

“It’s the same thing as regular college students,” she said. “They’re obviously here to come learn.”

The state pays for PSEO students’ tuition and textbook costs but doesn’t cover the student services fees that help fund student groups, said Anja Hovde, student services specialist for the University’s

Advanced High School Student Services.

PSEO students are encouraged to go to groups and explain why they’re interested in joining, she said.

Brandon Luu, a second-year PSEO student from Burnsville Senior High School, said having to commute to campus every day might make it difficult for PSEO students to get involved on campus. And because they’re not required to attend Welcome Week cultural fairs, he said, they may not know about activities in the first place.

Luu was introduced to AASU by a family member — a common case for PSEO students involved in the group, he said.

“You just kind of join our huge family,” he said.

Now the outreach chairman for the group, Luu said students can get more involved in college because, unlike in high school, groups are student-run and don’t answer to a teacher or facilitator.

AASU President Woo Chul Lee said he pushes PSEO students in his group to work hard because they’re “really passionate” about it.

“I don’t see any problems working with PSEO students because it seems like they have that maturity of mindset,” he said.

When she was a PSEO student, Minnesota International Student Association officer Grace Doherty said she didn’t get involved on campus because she didn’t feel “on the same level” as other students.

But the more involved PSEO students are, Doherty said, the more likely they’ll beat the “stigma” of being too young or too smart.

“It’s not like they have a giant sign on their forehead,” she said.