Trinity University Upward Bound Program gains national recognition for its impact on college graduation rates

Trinity University Upward Bound Program gains national recognition for its impact on college graduation rates
Posted on 12/07/2018

Article provided by Trinity Upward Bound

On a Saturday morning, high school students from San Antonio’s West and South Side communities find their seats amidst their peers in a crowded Trinity University auditorium.  They gather to work towards a goal that few in their families have attained, the goal of earning a college degree.  It is a shared goal, supported by parents whose sacrifice daily for their children to have the benefit of a college education and by an Upward Bound staff who work tirelessly to promote postsecondary access. 

TRIO Upward Bound is a college preparatory initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education with the implicit goal of assisting low income students to overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.  Since the fall of 1980, the Trinity University Upward Bound program has served students in Edgewood and Harlandale ISDs.

“We are driven by a mission,” remarks Mary Prado, Upward Bound assistant director, “a mission is to close the gaps in academic achievement and college graduation faced by students in our target school districts.” 

To achieve this mission, Upward Bound provides a variety of services including college preparatory courses, academic advising, college visits and cultural enrichment activities. 

Within the services, program staff work alongside students to build on the natural resiliencies students possess, strengthening the determination, hard work and grit needed to be the first in their families to graduate from college. 

As Norma Gonzalez reflects, “In high school, I had big dreams and Upward Bound was there to help me every step of the way. They listened to my dreams and presented me with the path and skills to achieve them.  Now as a Stanford University alumni and a current graduate student at Columbia University, I realize more than ever that Upward Bound is more than a college readiness program, it is also a creator, supporter and enabler of dreams.”

The impact of Upward Bound can be seen in their record of postsecondary attainment.  Sixty percent of Trinity Upward Bound students have gone on to graduate from college and 52 percent of participants have earned a four-year bachelor’s degree.  Across the United States, in comparison, only 33.4 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree. The achievement and success of Trinity Upward Bound students led to the program’s recognition as a 2018 Example of Excelencia finalist. Examples of Excelencia is a national effort to bring attention to evidence-based practices that work for Latino students in higher education. Trinity Upward Bound was one of only 21 finalists selected from over 139 programs from 27 states, DC and Puerto Rico.  

“We are so proud of our students and graduates,” remarks Simone Carnegie-Diaz, Upward Bound director.  “Our graduates overcome obstacles each day and persist no matter what challenges they face to receive their college degrees.  They earn those degrees to better their futures and the futures of their families.  The Upward Bound staff is honored to play a small part in their success, guiding and encouraging them along the way to both high school and college graduation.”

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