Boot Camp for Scientists

As a Loyola engineering graduate and a longtime member of LMU’s Board of Regents, Tom Hynes ’59 has attended his fair share of commencement exercises.

“But next year,” Hynes says of the 2013 ceremony, “will be a special one.” That’s because the occasion will mark the graduation of the first cohort of the ACCESS program that Hynes and his wife, Marlene, support financially.

ACCESS stands for “A Community Committed to Excellence in Scientific Scholarship.” The program, which is also funded by Sharon and Robert Sclabassi, M.D. ’62, pays for 18 incoming engineering students to spend three weeks on the bluff each summer. The students learn everything from where to find the library to how to develop and sharpen their analytic skills. They also meet staff members and faculty, engage in team building and go on cultural and educational outings around Los Angeles.

“ACCESS is kind of like a boot camp for certain kids,” Tom Hynes says. “These are kids who, on the scale of acceptance to LMU, are not the highest and they are not the lowest.”

The ACCESS participants, Hynes says, come from various socioeconomic backgrounds and are often the first members of their family to attend college, which can be intimidating. This all sounds familiar to the program supporter.

“I grew up near downtown L.A. in an environment very similar to where these kids come from,” Hynes says. “I went to a small Catholic high school. My parents were working folks; my dad was a truck driver for United Parcel Service and my mom stayed home. We had five children in the family.”

Marlene Hynes says that one of her and Tom’s sons, who is dyslexic, benefited from a program elsewhere that is similar to ACCESS. “With the experience we had, we thought this is a perfect thing to give our money to,” she says. “We want to help give these students an opportunity to make the world a better place.”

Jeremy Rosenberg is a Los Angeles-based writer. His works on a wide variety of topics have appeared in dozens of anthology books, magazines and websites. Follow or contact him @LosJeremy.