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November 13, 2012
By Tovah Goodman
Ellen Houston is the new director of the Upward Bound Programs. She started working at the University in 1997. Houston most recently worked in the Center for Student Cultural Diversity, where she served as the assistant director supervising student-development projects.
As someone who was a first-generation student, I can relate to the unique challenges the Upward Bound students face. I did not really aspire to attend college until I started playing competitive volleyball in high school.
That experience provided me exposure to college campuses through travel for tournaments, gave me role models and mentors who helped me stay focused in high school and provided me the economic means to pursue my academic dreams with an athletic scholarship.
After receiving my undergraduate degree, I discovered early in my career that I wanted to give back by helping first generation students by pursuing a degree in counseling. I truly believe education is the most powerful tool in breaking the cycle of poverty and making a stronger society.
Through my work in Student Access and Opportunity Services, as well as the Center for Student Cultural Diversity, I watched numerous first generation students earn their degrees, get good paying jobs and inspire other members of their families to do the same. The circumstances of entire families are improved by just one member completing post-secondary education.
Upward Bound has been on the University of Nevada, Reno campus for 46 years, with an outstanding history of success. Nationally, 82% of Upward Bound program participants go on to enroll in college, while the University's three Upward Bound Programs have a combined post-secondary matriculation rate of 86%. For Upward Bound to have achieved such high numbers is really a testament to the quality and strength of the programs, as well as the expertise of the programs' professionals. I am lucky to be joining such an outstanding team.