As the Upward Bound (UB) program celebrates its 40th anniversary at the University of Nevada, Reno three current Summer Academy students sat down to talk will Nevada News' Jill Stockton about their involvement with the program. Ruth Salas, 16, is a junior at Galena High school. Natalie Godinez, 17 is a senior at Carson High and Alvaro Lopes, 17, is a senior at Wooster High.
Upward Bound has two components, the Academic Year and the Summer Academy. During the Academic Year, Upward Bound participants attend Saturday College Preparatory Sessions once or twice a month, meet with an advisor monthly, and work with tutors to improve their academic skills. When students follow through with program curriculum and meet program standards they have opportunities to attend college tours that take them to colleges and universities in the United States. Finally, students also participate in other field trips such as skiing, skating, bowling, career and college fairs, camping, museum tours, plays, and other cultural awareness activities.
Students are accepted into the University's Summer Academy based on grades and/or Academic Year participation and performance. They can choose to live in the dormitories on the University of Nevada, Reno campus for six weeks, all expenses paid. Students enroll in Upward Bound academic classes in preparation for the curriculum of their next year in high school. Student's room with other local high school students, interact with teachers, residential advisors, attend field trips and cultural activities, and participate in intramural activities. After attending one Summer Academy on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, students may have the opportunity to spend six weeks at one of the Regional Math and Science Centers which are located in California, Hawaii, and Arizona.
After talking with these three exceptional students it was clear that there really is something special about the program.
Jill Stockton: How did you find out about UB?
Alvaro: My brother got me involved because he saw me going down the wrong track. He was an UB student and thought it would be good for me.
Natalie: I saw the recruiters at my school and my parents heard about it and they made me get involved.
Ruth: I saw the recruiters, but I really didn't want to join the program because most of the programs offered at school make you pay. I thought my family could not afford it. My friend joined the program and told me that it was free and I decided to join with her.
JS: What type of student were you before you got involved in UB?
N: I was a straight A student, but I was always getting in trouble.
R: I was really shy and was not too open.
A: I was an average student.
JS: What has been your personal experience with the program this summer?
R: This is my second summer; it is the end of my first full year with the program. I feel that every year I grow. UB is like a family, a place to go every summer and everyone is really nice. It is really easy to make friends and I really enjoy myself here. It's awesome.
N: This is my second summer but my fourth year with UB. You get to meet a lot of new people that you can't hang out with during the academic year because the academic year is not as social. You get to make a lot of close friends and have a lot of fun in a six week timeframe. If I was not here this summer I'd be at home really bored, doing nothing. I like the program and the Summer Academy because I am getting a head start on my studies for the fall.
A: It is my fourth summer here, and my fourth year with UB. I've been in the program since the 8th grade. It is an open environment. I like it here because it is easy to concentrate and everyone is on the same page. We are all learning at the same pace. It is a school atmosphere with no distractions. I like that there are a lot of open-minded people here.
JS: Why is getting a head start during the summer important?
A: Last year I took physics and trigonometry here. It gave me a head start on my first semester-and-a-half at school. I knew what was going on in class even though it was hard to learn it in six weeks during the summer; it made it a lot easier for me to succeed during the academic year because I had all ready learned the material over the summer. It makes learning the material at school a lot easier.
N: During the summer months if you I am doing anything I lose all of the things I've learned. I like the Summer Academy program that UB offers because it reminds me of what I've all ready learned and prepares me for what you are going to learn during the academic year.
R: Last summer I took geometry and algebra 3-4. When the academic year started, I took both algebra classes and got really great grades. We also were required to read Shakespeare's Othello during the academic year. Upward Bound took us to see the play over the summer at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Seeing the play made it a lot easier for me to read during the school year. This was helpful, because a lot of students have a hard time reading Shakespeare's work, but seeing the play made it really easy.
JS: What do you like about the Summer Academy?
N: The Summer Academy is pretty awesome. I like the summer because of the dorm life. You get a roommate that is not related to you! It is quite an experience and it's fun.
A: Last year my roommate was from Michigan and I've never met anyone from Michigan. It is always awkward the first week but you adjust and it is really fun now.
All: I really like being away from home and feeling independent. I feel like I can do things on my own and not have to depend on my parents. You always have something to do here on campus. There is never a dull moment at UB.
N and R: I like everything about UB. It is my family away from home.
JS: What is your favorite part of UB?
N: The overall feeling you have. I am always happy and my friends are always there for me. I also like the trips that we get to go on.
A: The memories that we are making.
R: The friendships I've made and the fun experiences.
What kind of trips can you go on?
All: We all went on a trip to Florida. We went on a bunch of college tours to see different campuses. We also got to visit the Kennedy Space Center. I never thought I'd ever get to go there. We also got to go to Busch Gardens. It was a lot of fun.
R: I went to New York. I got to go to the United Nations and I also got to tour a few campuses there. It was awesome. I also like UB because it helped me face my fears at Busch Gardens.
JS: Do you also overcome your fears in the classroom?
R: Yeah, even this summer. I have learned to challenge myself and take risks.
A: I have learned to be more open-minded about things and rather than tell myself that I can't do something, I always give it a try.
JS: Would you recommend UB to middle and high school students?
N: I'd tell them to give it a try and I'd ensure them that they'd like it.
A: I'd tell them to try it and keep in mind that it is an academic program. I'd also tell them to have a good attitude and an open mind.
R: UB is like a friendship; in a friendship both sides have to give. I'd like to thank all of the UB staff members that have helped me. UB is like a family. There is a large focus on academics, but you have people on staff that are also there to be your friend and help you with your problems.
N: And you get something even greater in return. You get trust, loyalty and you build yourself for success. I'd tell them about the labs that I have taken, too. You get to take a college course and learn the same things you'd learn in college. That was really cool. I never thought I'd be able to take a class like that while I was in high school.
A: The friends I've made through UB, I keep in touch with them throughout the year. We have a really close bond. I like UB because everyone here is on the same plan. It is different at school. Everyone in UB wants to learn and wants to go to college and wants to do something good with their lives.
N: We look forward to our Saturday sessions so we can reconnect with old friends.
JB: What is the Saturday session?
A: During the academic year we have to come to a meeting on campus once a month. We talk about scholarships, setting goals and meet with our UB counselors.
R: During the year we also meet with our counselors at school to make sure our grades are good and that we are staying on track.
R: I'd rather be at UB that at a party with my friends. It is funny because we are all different people from different schools, yet we all find a way to work together. At school I'm just the weird girl with the dyed hair, but at UB I can be myself and have fun with other students who have the same things in common as me.
JS: What are your plans after high school?
R: I really like math and science. That is where I excel. I am planning to go to college, but I am not sure where. Because UB offers college tours I have gotten to explore other campuses beyond this University. I like UB because it helps me to look beyond, into my future.
N: I am interested in medical sciences. I want to go to medical school. UB helps you get into good colleges and helps you get a head start on applications and finding scholarships. The program also helps you earn college credit with the Summer Bridge program.
A: I want to go to college and major in engineering, maybe mechanical engineering. Math and science are my strongest subjects.
JS: Why do you all seem to really like math and science?
A: I like it because I can easily understand the concepts. I like solving problems and figuring things out.
R: There are a lot of fields of science that you can go into; I like to see research expanding because I think that will mean that there will be new jobs for me when I am finished with college.
JS: Where do you think you'd be without UB?
R: I can't imagine my life with our UB. It is my family now. I guess I'd be working. I know I wouldn't be studying. I wouldn't have the motivation.
N: I'd be sitting around doing nothing and being bored.
A: I'd be working and doing nothing good with my life. Before UB I was not interested in school and I didn't care about my grades. UB exposed me to a fun, motivated environment to learn in.
JS: What will happen when you leave UB? Will you stay involved?
R: I want to stay involved with UB and pay the program back for what it has given me.
N: Without UB and the direction that it gives me, I am not always sure of where I should go, but UB gives me the extra push I need to get where I need to go.
R: In life no one is going to hold you hand and take you where you need to go. UB teaches you how to it yourself.
Upward Bound is an academic program that provides many opportunities for a student to develop his or her academic and testing skills, receive assistance with career planning, develop self-esteem, and learn skills and identify resources to be successful in college. It is a commitment and opportunity that spans a student's years of high school.
The University of Nevada, Reno has sponsored at least one Upward Bound program since 1967. The Upward Bound Washoe program serves 75 participants, the Upward Bound Northwest program serves 50 students, as does the Truckee Meadows program. Jointly, the Upward Bound programs serve 175 participants in a given year.