Life inside Upward Bound Program changes student outcomes
by Christian Salazar
Trinity’s Upward Bound program has served students from Edgewood ISD and Harlandale ISD since the fall of 1980, aiming to close the opportunity gap between low-income, first-generation students and the general population, as part of the TRiO initiative established in 1965. The program is divided into two components: the academic year and a summer component. The program guides students throughout high school to be as successful as possible, and aids its participants in applying for college and scholarships.
The academic year component includes field trips, volunteer work, and most importantly, Saturday academic sessions. These sessions consist of three academic classes that align with courses from participants’ high schools, including literature, math, chemistry, and physics. These sessions help boost academic performance in current classes, facilitate productivity, instill discipline, and provide an increase in perspective, which is accomplished by having two meetings every month, allocating time for students to progress on school work, and taking its students to various universities and establishments across Texas.
Jennifer Adame, a rising senior at Kennedy High School with a strong appreciation for her Upward Bound teachers, commented, “When you come to that Saturday Session you have your teacher to help you out here.” The Upward Bound teachers come in ready with different lessons and choose their lessons based on what their students are doing at their local high school. The Upward Bound staff make sure to carefully choose teachers and professors from all over San Antonio who want to genuinely see success for their students. When describing her Upward Bound teachers’ teaching methods, Jennifer stated, “It’s really helpful because they do things that aren’t overwhelming, and they do things that’s relevant to what you’re covering in school.”
Arguably, the most impactful time spent in the Upward Bound program is during the six-week summer component. Here, students spend all day in classes that they will take during the next academic year, The classes are fast-paced and require dedication, but the participants know the benefits will be worth their struggle. Linda Ramirez, a rising sophomore at Harlandale High School, reflected on her experience with Upward Bound during the summer, “It has been very beneficial to me because, though I am struggling with coursework now, I know that I won’t be struggling as much in school because of this program.” As an aspiring lawyer, Linda knows that admitting to struggle with courses will be a necessary step to be successful on her journey because it will enable her to get help and move forward. This is the case for many of the participants in Upward Bound, who notice an increase in academic success during the academic year.
While the program was created to aid in getting low-income, first generation students to college, it has another valuable mission: creating connections among groups of people and individuals. Mary Prado, an Upward Bound alumna and the assistant director of the program, stated the emphasis on connections the program aims to develop in its participants: “I believed it really helped with realizing the foundation of connection that you make with individuals is really important,” Mrs. Prado remarked when explaining how Upward Bound helped her to get to where she is today. “When students are going and actually meeting individuals from either professional development, or careers, or institutions, you’re creating those connections, and those connections will really, really help you in the future.”
At Upward Bound, students get more than academic support: they gain a priceless connection to a community that will follow them into the future.