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UNT’s Upward Bound, which helps prepare students for college, to begin recruitment in September

UNT’s Upward Bound, which helps prepare students for college, to begin recruitment in September

UNT’s Upward Bound, which helps prepare students for college, to begin recruitment in September
June 13
17:36 2019

Featured ImageUpward Bound students participate in a theater course in Bruce Hall before heading out to physical education on June 10, 2019. Image by: Sophie Moncaleano.

The University of North Texas’s Upward Bound, a summer program at UNT that prepares Denton high school students for college education and living, will begin recruiting students in September. The application process includes a written essay, income verification documents, report cards and a copy of the student’s social security card.

The program is a federally-funded academic program designed to encourage low-income, first-generation high school students to pursue post-secondary education after high school. To be recruited, each applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a first-generation student and from a low-income family.

Currently, Upward Bound serves Decatur, Denton, Guyer, Ryan and Sanger high schools.

“Upward Bound helps students who want to go to college but just don’t have the tools or the support to get there,” said Upward Bound Director Tori Nelson. “We provide advising during high school to help them choose college prep classes. We help them with their college admission and financial aid applications. Most importantly, we give them the support they need to successfully graduate high school and transition to college.”

Student applicants are accepted during their freshman or sophomore year of high school and are expected to stay in the program throughout their high school career. These students are taught courses such as literature, composition, mathematics, science and foreign language at a college level.

The program also offers mentoring for college entrance testing and help with scholarships, college applications and financial aid.

Upward Bound includes SOAR Mentoring, a peer mentoring program, that is designed to pair Upward Bound students with a TRIO Student Support Services student. This allows Upward Bound students to gain more assistance and resources regarding their academics and integrate them into the college life.

“Upward Bound provides me with multiple tutoring opportunities when I need extra help,” said Jackie Sanchez, a 2018 graduate. “My classmates constantly complain about how hard it is to apply for FAFSA or to find an available spot to take the SAT or ACT, but thanks to Upward Bound these are things I’ve been able to do easily with the help of the staff.”

Program participants are able to attend various activities and events on campus, such as volleyball, that are designed to enrich their experiences and create memorable moments.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to pursue a college degree,” said Nelson. “If you don’t know how to make that happen, if you don’t speak the language of higher education, it can be a daunting task.”

“If you asked me my freshman year before I joined, I would’ve had no idea how to fill out an application or apply to FAFSA,” first generation college student Jared Mireles said. “They [Upward Bound] really went step-by-step, holding my hand through everything. But closer to my junior year, they gave me the reins to try and figure out my own path.”

Mireles said there was a lot to learn before applying to college such as writing essays and navigating scholarships and financial aid.

“They helped me figure out how to set up my FSA ID,” said Mireles. “They had parent nights where our parents would come down and bring all of our information and we would fill it out together. My parents never had to do that so this really helped them a lot.”

Deadlines were set during the program for assignments and applications, and students were trained for life after high school, learning about professionalism.

“Living on campus, having to get a job and having us go to class as well helps us try and balance work life, school life and a social life afterwards,” said Mireles. “Honestly, it helped me make my own boundaries and become more mature.”

From his application to his first year of the program, Nelson said she could see that Mireles had a drive to learn.

“He always has the biggest smile on his face and his presence brings an energy to the rest of the students,” said Nelson. “Jared is a leader in every sense of the word. He expects a lot of himself while also supporting others around him.”

Mireles believed that Upward Bound helped him open up more to others and it was comforting to be beside peers that were going through the same journey as him.

“There’s so many types of people that are joining the program and it really makes you understand that we may not come from the same background, but we have the same type of goal: college,” said Mireles. “It’s really beneficial in teaching the ways to communicate with others, how to work with others and how to work in a big group. I probably wouldn’t be as funny as I am today if it wasn’t for this program.”

Currently, Mireles works on UNT campus shadowing the director of Student Money Management in Chestnut Hall and has plans to transfer to North Central Texas College to finish required courses such as math and writing.

Without Upward Bound, Mireles said he believes that his goals for the future would not be possible.

“There would be a lot of differences,” said Mireles. “I don’t want to say the worst. I definitely know that I would want to go to college, but I would not know the steps I need to take to get there. I wouldn’t care as much in school, not knowing the importance of a GPA, so I’d probably be working at a McDonald’s somewhere.”

After taking psychology classes in high school, Mireles said he is hoping to major in psychology.

“Jared’s goal is the to be the first college graduate in his family,” said Nelson. “We have no doubt that Jared will make that dream a reality.”

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Sophie Moncaleano

Sophie Moncaleano

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