Upward Bound gives low-income students a preview of college life
Rob Vanya, June 11, 2012
HOUSTON – San Jacinto College has received a federal grant to fund the Upward Bound program, which provides low-income and first-generation high school students a preview of college life.
The total for the first budget period (Sept. 1, 2012 through Aug. 31, 2013) is $307,821. The Upward Bound grant is approved for a five-year period, and is administered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.
The grant, championed by United States Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), funds a staff of advisors, instructors, and tutors to operate summer sessions, academic year sessions, Saturday sessions, university campus visits, a reading and science development program, as well as a number of educational field trips. Upward Bound students from Channelview and Galena Park High Schools enter the program the summer before becoming ninth-graders.
“I’m excited to see the Department of Education supporting this innovative program between San Jacinto College and high schools in Channelview and Galena Park,” said Congressman Green. “Upward Bound will benefit thousands of our community's students and give them unique learning opportunities, experiences, and skills to help them enter and be prepared for college.”
The six-week program is structured similar to a San Jacinto College summer session so that high school students can experience what it’s like to attend classes during the summer. J.D. Mota, executive director of the San Jacinto College TRiO-Upward Bound grant, said many first-generation college students, especially those from minority backgrounds, do not attend college classes during the summer, which can negatively affect their persistence and completion rates. He added that the summer program has proven effective because students become accustomed to taking classes all year, rather than attending college just during the traditional academic year.
“Once the six-week summer program is complete, the students who have worked hardest go on a one-week in-state college residency,” Mota said. “Students get the look and feel of what being away from home for college is all about, which is a problem area that is often not addressed when working with minority first-generation college-bound students.”
Academic and student support services continue once Upward Bound students enter high school. The program offers 16 to 18 Saturday sessions during the academic year, with students taking math, science, writing, and reading classes at the San Jacinto College North Campus. Upward Bound students also take field trips to museums during the Saturday sessions, and visit college campuses in the Houston area. Tutoring services are provided, as well as additional services related to financial literacy, college entrance exam preparation, assistance with admissions forms, financial aid, and scholarship applications. Students who excel can participate in a six-week summer Math and Science Upward Bound program at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
“All said and done, a student who begins Upward Bound right out of the eighth grade, who attends faithfully, and is accepted to the UTA math and science program receives about $20,000 worth of services over the course of four and a half years,” remarked Mota. “This successful grant award will benefit the Upward Bound students, their relatives, schools, and the entire community. This grant is a sound investment in the lives of many that San Jacinto College serves, and we thank Congressman Gene Green for his efforts and assistance in securing this grant.”
San Jacinto College student Dayan Marroquin personifies how such an investment pays dividends. Marroquin started as an Upward Bound student as a 15-years-old ninth grader at Galena Park High School. After graduating in 2010, she enrolled at the San Jacinto College North Campus, where she now attends and will earn an associate degree in business in December. She says participating in Upward Bound has been a life-changing experience.
“Upward Bound was and is a family to me,” she commented. “I have learned about the important things in life, and what it would be like without an education. Upward Bound has motivated me to reach for more in life, especially since my dad did not finish middle school and my mom decided to become a housewife after high school.”
Marroquin is the first person in her family to attend college. She says she probably would not have been able to attend college without the motivation and guidance she received through Upward Bound. “I have benefitted from every part of Upward Bound,” she remarked. “Learning has become more than just education, it’s an adventure. There is always something new to learn, and I got so much out of the field trips to museums, and from visiting college campuses.”
Upward Bound students can attend any college, but Marroquin chose San Jacinto College as her initial college because of affordability and convenience. She wanted to stay close to home in order to help her mother. “I am the oldest and have been my mom’s right hand, so to speak, so I did not want to leave her alone to handle family matters,” said Marroquin. “It has worked out best for both of us, because she has been there with me all along for extra support.”
After graduating from San Jacinto College, Marroquin plans to attend the University of Houston to earn a master’s degree in business.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.