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Upward Bound Provides Higher Education Option to First-Generation College Students

Saturday, June 21, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

Upward BoundIf Rosa Espinoza's testimony is any indication, Texas State Technical College's Upward Bound Program has been a great service to students from the Harlingen and San Benito school districts.

Upward Bound is a year-round program funded by a federal grant through the Department of Education. The program focuses on students that are first-generation college students and from low-income families.

The students join Upward Bound as freshmen in high school and stay with the program throughout their high school careers. The students gain academic enrichment through college tours and career exploration and are encouraged to continue their education past high school.

For Espinoza, that meant enrolling at TSTC and focusing on completing her Academic Core or college basics.

But Upward Bound did more than just promote the possibility of a college education for Espinoza.

"The academic side is there, they help you with everything from tutoring to what classes to take once you're in college," said Espinoza, a 2013 graduate form Harlingen High School.

"But Upward Bound is so much more," she said. "They help you with everyday things. They check up on you and make sure you're doing well. It's like a family and they make sure to do what it takes for you to succeed in school and in life."

Upward Bound Director Melinda Ortiz concurred with Espinoza and added that her staff's goal was to facilitate the students' transition from high school to college.

From the time they sign up as freshmen, Upward Bound students meet one Saturday of every month during the school year. During these meetings, students take classes or do some type of community service.

During the summer, the students take part in a six-week program meeting every day from Monday through Thursday and take enrichment courses that they'll need for the following academic year at their respective high schools.

"A lot of times, students that graduate from high school are misguided and they don't know what to do when they get to college," Ortiz said. "We help them in letting them know what to expect and in helping them find their passion. We build relationships here that will help students through high school, college and later in life."

Espinoza plans on transferring to a four-year university and eventually pursuing a degree in marine biology. And she said being an alum of the Upward Bound Program has helped guide her along the way.

For more information on the Upward Bound Program, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenupwardbound.

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