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Alum helps young underprivileged women set sail

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March 7, 2002

Sixteen young women from San Francisco and the Bay Area boarded a 110-foot boat and set sail for the Caribbean on Thursday, March 7. Thanks to SFSU alum Caitlin Schwarzman, the women will spend the next two months learning about sailing ships and the sea while also studying math, literature and oceanography as part of the Tall Ships Semester for Girls program.

Schwarzman, an avid sailor, was teaching at Mercy High School while working on a master's degree in education on campus, when she discovered that the standard 55-minute class period simply didn't give her enough time with students. As part of her thesis, and with the guidance from Mark Phillips, a professor in secondary education, Schwarzman put together a program where underprivileged young women could experience the wonders of the sea and earn high school credit at the same time.

The young women have been learning the basics of sailing (and working on their academic studies) at the America True building on the Embarcadero. Now they are ready to set sail--and along the way drop anchor in Caribbean locales such as St. Thomas, Antigua, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. After completing the semester at sea most of the women hope to land maritime internships.

The cost of the semester at sea is paid for by donations, but the young women also hold fund-raisers through car washes, bake sales and other odd jobs.

Schwarzman graduated from SFSU in 1998. She now teaches English and art at the City's Leadership High School and serves as chairman of the Tall Ships Semester for Girls program.

Find out more about the Tall Ships program.

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Last modified March 6, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs