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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Upward and unbound

Courtesy Upward Bound
The Upward Bound program pose for a picture on the UA Mall. The program supports low-income high school students and helps them transition to campus life.

The University of Arizona is home to many summer programs where high school students can prepare for college. With the campus nearly empty, there’s plenty of room for a younger generation to get a taste of the college experience.  

Upward Bound is one of eight TRIO programs funded through the US Department of Education designed to serve high school students from low-income families in programs that provide fundamental support in their preparation for college entrance. 

“We work specifically with Pueblo and Cholla high school students from grades ninth through seniors,” said Upward Bound Coordinator, Maria Mata. 

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According to Mata, this is the first year the UA’s College of Education has hosted Upward Bound, enrolling 60 high school students in the program. 

To be admitted into the program, students must be among the top 25 percent of their class, with a 3.0 GPA and must have completed their 16 high school core academic courses and be an Arizona resident. 

TRIO organizes informational events throughout the nation for students interested in joining college-prep courses and programs at their school and beyond. College-enrolled mentors visit career centers in high schools where they serve as drop-in tutors for their assigned mentees. 

“We hire UA students that will serve as mentors to the students,” Mata said. “They meet biweekly at their school, where they’ll have one-on-ones with time management, following up on their grades, and if they are Juniors or Seniors, definitely looking at SAT or ACTs test prep and applying to scholarships and colleges.” 

Once summer rolls around and school is out, admitted students are given the opportunity to visit the UA campus for five weeks to receive academic instruction in the fields of mathematics, composition, linguistics and environmental science. 

“I like it; it’s nice that they help us learn about colleges,” said Pueblo High School sophomore Alexi Roman. “They taught us about how to enroll into colleges, a lot on what some colleges are strong in.” 

Through five weeks of lectures, group activities and mentorship, Roman has a glimpse of what he might pursue once he begins as a college freshman.

“They helped me explore a lot, and I don’t really know what I want to do coming in, but now I do now I do, I want to be an engineer,” he said. 

According to Mata, most of the students in the program are first-generation high school graduates and come from families of low income. 

On her first day, Mata had trouble finding the UA campus at first like many others, “I have lived in Tucson my whole life and I knew UA was here, but just never been here,” she said.

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“They have never been on the U of A campus or an university campus in general. Having them here on campus gives them that step ahead,” she said. 

Although UA is in the same city these students live in, the college community in Tucson is something most are very new to.

Students showcased their work to staff, mentors and parents on June 25. After, students visited Arizona’s other two major universities, which, according to Mata, it is an amazing opportunity.

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