For the first time, local high school students in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Upward Bound Summer Academy program were selected to attend a section of the National Student Leadership Congress in Washington, D.C. last month. The six-day event welcomed only about 200 students nation-wide, with five participants representing the University.
Upward Bound is a free college preparatory program offering college tours and fairs, financial aid and literacy classes, and career exploration for high school students whose parents have not earned a four-year college degree and/or the family’s earnings meet the low-income level guidelines set by the federal government. During the academic year, students meet with an assigned counselor twice a month at their high schools, work with trained tutors and attend monthly Saturday college preparatory academic sessions.
“Upward Bound opens your mind to the idea that you can attend college and there are ways you can get your school paid for,” said Andrea Cordova, Upward Bound student and Leadership Congress participant.
The Leadership Conference is designed to expose students to life on a college campus, develop leadership skills, explore future careers through simulations and provide interactive meetings with government officials or leading experts in their chosen field. The conference offers 14 subjects of study to students from varying fields such as healthcare and U.S. diplomacy.
“It opened my eyes to how congress works and how long it takes to write up a bill,” said Upward Bound student Leticia Alvarado-Lopez. “I now appreciate how tiring and stressful it can be.”
The conference focused on effective leadership skills and how federal policy is made. The attendees all participated in a mock congress with subcommittees focused on controversial issues like abortion and the theory of evolution being taught in high schools. The students had to engage in heated debates, draft legislation, present their resolutions and vote over the course of their Leadership Congress experience.
The program that the Upward Bound students attended “was only offered to TRiO students, specifically Upward Bound, Upward Bound math and science students and Talent Search students,” explained Garnett L. Overby III, Upward Bound counselor and coordinator.
After the Leadership Congress invitations, the five students were selected through internal application process. Along with Cordova (Wooster High School) and Alvarado-Lopez (North Valleys High School), the three other participants were Maria Perez-Saldana (Wooster), Claudia Gonzalez-Arellano (Hug High School), and Alyssa Griener (North Valleys).
U.S. Congress established a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America's economic and social life. These programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRiO Programs. TRiO programs, including McNair and TRiO Scholars and the University’s Upward Bound, help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education, offering hope and support to those who need and desire it. For more information, visit Upward Bound, Trio Scholars or McNair Scholars.