High school students bound their way into college

Kathleen Olivas, Upward Bound Intern

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Upward Bound is a college readiness program that has helped high school students attend college of their dreams since 1965. Even though this program has been around for a long time, many people may not know about it. The program enrolls teens while in middle school and follows them throughout their high school careers to help them strive for greatness in their college career.
Students meet three Saturdays a month throughout the year, and also for six weeks in the summer. On the days spent at UB, students take English and math classes to make sure that they stay current on their high school classes, but are still treated like college students by their teachers said UB student Destiney Roberts.
“Upward Bound showed me that I had options. I have the choice to go to college and if I want I can go out of the city for it, too,” Roberts said. “Joining UB was the best decision I’ve made.” She’s taken a variety of math and English classes as well as a financial literacy course that’s she feels will help her later in life.
Destiney said before joining UB she didn’t put forth a lot of effort in school. She didn’t do extracurricular activities. She said she was told that all that extra activities look good on a resume and that is something she didn’t think about until she joined UB. When asked if UB has made her grow, she laughed.
“Duh! When I came, I didn’t even know how to express myself without getting embarrassed,” she said.
UB gave her confidence and showed her many skills she is going to need in college, Roberts said. She recommends the program to everyone unsure of how college works. Another thing Roberts enjoyed was how the program rewards the students.
“They take us on trips in the spring and in the summer to see colleges around us, as well as pay us for the days we come, which is awesome,” Roberts said.
UB Director Lucero Macias said through organizing trips, students can see that hard work pays off. Other programs don’t have the luxury of going out of town, Macias said, and it is for which she has had to fight.
This is not the only thing that set the UB apart from other prep programs. UB goes above and beyond to ensure students’ success in college.
“High school may get you college ready, but UB gives you the tools and additional support to finish college. We don’t forget about you when graduate, for six years you are under our watchful eye,” Macias said.
When asked her main goal for students, Macias said she wants UB students to understand that its OK to ask questions
“Too many times students are held back from receiving assistance in higher education because they do not know who to talk to or what to ask. My hope is that the UB students are well equipped to handle these situations,” said Macias
Wanting all her students to have the correct tools for a successful college experience, UB started summer internships for its seniors in order to learn new skills they need in college, communications skills, networking, and learning how to manage their time. These are skills students also need in the workplace.
Next year, UB will start a new summer program that will bring incoming freshman to take their Texas Success Initiative, a test students must pass to get into college in Texas. Students then don’t have to worry about the test as seniors and can take dual-credit class sooner in high school. For information on the Upward Bound program visit www.utep.edu/student-affairs/upward-bound.

Kathleen Olivas is an Upward Bound intern at Student Media and Publications. Upward Bound is a U.S. Department of Education program that provides fundamental support to high school students in their preparation for post-secondary studies. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in pre-college performance and ultimately in higher education.