Thanks to Upward Bound, local high school students have the opportunity to make their dreams of higher education become their reality.
As a federally funded project through the Department of Education, Upward Bound programs across the country guide high school students on their path to college.
“We begin with life and leadership skills, SAT and intense academic preparation, and end with the college admissions process, financial aid and selecting a college major,” says executive director Ricardo Quintero, who oversees Upward Bound at Cal Poly Pomona. He adds that most participants come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and are the first in their family to go to college.
Quintero urges students to build a network of relationships and to “be proactive, not reactive” in their college experience, defining Upward Bound as a chance for students to take control of their academic success.
To aid them in networking, the program hosted for the first time this summer a joint mixer with students from Summer Bridge, which is Cal Poly Pomona’s program for incoming freshmen. Students from each program shared their academic aspirations, and Cal Poly Pomona students gave advice on navigating the university and the college admissions process.
“I asked my students about the mixer and the only complaint was that they wanted more time for discussion,” says Quintero, adding that the discussions were immensely helpful to the high school seniors.
The mixer was designed to give college-bound seniors an opportunity to interact with students from similar backgrounds who had made it to college. One Upward Bound student said the event “is great for getting feedback and advice about college choices.” Another said that being involved with the program and spending time at Cal Poly Pomona has helped to “figure out my college plan.”
Having the program based at Cal Poly Pomona during the summer gives participants a true college atmosphere and opportunities outside of high school. Since its inception on campus in 1995, Upward Bound has consisted of students from Pomona, Montclair and Ontario high schools.
One unique aspect of Upward Bound is its tailored approach. Four programs (two varieties of traditional sciences and humanities, and two focused on math and science) allow students to explore their higher education options. They receive year-round academic tutoring and advising at their high schools, as well as the five-week summer residential session at Cal Poly Pomona.
By the end of the mixer, Quintero and Monique Allard, executive director of Student Support & Equity Programs, urged both groups of students to take charge of their academic future and maintain a strong motivation to attend college.
“It is possible to break the cycle of familial poverty through higher education completion,” Quintero says.
To learn more about Upward Bound, visit www.cpp.edu/~ub/.