Adams State Upward Bound awarded new grant

ALAMOSA—Adams State University’s Upward Bound program was recently awarded a five-year grant of $2,388,246 to continue its service to San Luis Valley high school students, according to Upward Bound Director Angelica Valdez.

One of the federal TRiO programs, it serves 114 students at seven area schools: Alamosa, Antonito, Centauri, Centennial, Center, Del Norte, and Monte Vista. Upward Bound’s goal is to prepare students for success in college.

Valdez noted Adams State’s program is one of the oldest in the nation, having operated continuously since 1972. To be eligible for participation, students must be low income and/or the first generation in their families to attend college. Those who are not proficient in reading, English, or math, or who have a grade point average below 2.5 may also qualify.

“We take students who are willing to work hard and want to be challenged. They commit to four years in our program. We expose them to as many careers and college majors as possible,” Valdez said. “Our program consistently meets or exceeds our objectives, which contributes to the grant renewal.” Those objectives include:

* 85 percent of students will graduate high school with a 2.5 GPA or above.

* 90 percent of students will remain in high school until graduation.

* 85 percent of students will enroll in post-secondary institutions.

* 92 percent of students will demonstrate academic rigor according to high school transcripts.

* 34 percent of students will graduate from college within 6 years.

Valdez added the program also offers support to families as they navigate the college and financial aid application process. “I tell parents my job is to save them money. If a student graduates high school at proficiency and avoids the need to take developmental education courses in college, it increases their chances of completing college in four to five years. We also provide academic advising for first-generation students throughout their college career, so we work with students for up to 10 years.”

Each summer, Upward Bound students live on the Adams State campus for five weeks, enrolled in mini-courses that mimic a semester at college. High school juniors and seniors may enroll in college courses for credit, as well. Seniors are able to complete job-shadowing internships on and off campus with professionals who hold a college degree.

During the school year, Upward Bound staff present evening courses at each school to help students attain proficiency. In addition, students visit the Adams State campus three times each semester for academic counseling, college and career planning, and financial literacy training. Upward Bound arranges at least four visits each year to different colleges and universities in Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Students also perform community service and participate in such cultural experiences as trips to museums and live theater in Denver.

Caption: Upward Bound student Hannah McKee, left, a senior at Centauri High School, shadows Kara Trujillo to learn about her work in the ASU Records Office. Courtesy photo