ISU’s TRIO Upward Bound summer program gives college prep

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The 2021 TRIO Upward Bound summer participants included, front row from left, Samara Taylor, Morgan Bruns, Mirna Alveranga, Rebeca Cacheo, Miranda Valdez and Mackenzie Camden; second row from left, Natalie Guardado, Nayeli Martinez, Hser Paw, Elizabeth Garcia, Sara Albarracin, Tania Contreras and Melissa Hernandez; third row from left, Esmeralda Chavez-Gomez, Jose Vargas, Jorge Galindo, Moses Albarran, Luis Servin, Erik Escobar, Orlando Gonzalez and Emmanuel Hernandez. Photo courtesy Upward Bound


The 21st annual Iowa State University TRIO Upward Bound summer program has concluded for the year, with 21 students from Fort Dodge, Marshalltown and Perry high schools completing four weeks of programming on the ISU campus.

“During the program, students get a head start on future high school academics, participate in various social and cultural activities and share meaningful experiences with staff and peers,” said TRIO Upward Bound Assistant Director Paula Plath.

Every summer, TRIO Upward Bound students reside on campus in a residence hall during the month of June, participating in a variety of classes and engaging in numerous activities throughout the month. Classes include literature, composition, mathematics, laboratory science and foreign language, as well as elective classes in the areas of career and social awareness.

This year’s students also indulged in career exploration as well as Swahili and Mandarin.

“The TRIO Upward Bound classes during the summer program prepare us for the next grade we are taking in high school,” said PHS senior Orlando Gonzalez, “but it also gives us some of the college experience so we don’t feel like we are going into higher education blind after graduation.”

TRIO Upward Bound is a college preparatory program for income-eligible and first-generation students and provides opportunities for participants to succeed in pre-college performance and ultimately higher education pursuits. The TRIO programs are funded under the Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

“Programs like TRIO Upward Bound are necessary because they provide opportunities for underrepresented students to explore their college and career options starting early in high school,” said TRIO Upward Bound and Talent Search Director Darcie Sprouse. “Our goal with the summer program is to prepare students academically and give them a college experience to help them start planning for their future.”

In addition to the summer component of TRIO Upward Bound, students also participate during the academic year. This part consists of classes, tutoring and workshops at Iowa State University that take place on two Saturdays per month. Students attend workshops on financial aid, money management, ACT preparation and how to select the best college for their needs. TRIO Upward Bound students receive a stipend when attending.

The goal of TRIO Upward Bound is to increase the rates in which participants enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

“When I was a member of Upward Bound in high school, I didn’t realize how much [the program’s] services and staff changed the trajectory of my educational career and outlook on life as a first-generation student,” said former TRIO Upward Bound participant Gabby Estlund, who graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High School in 2018 and is currently pursuing a degree in Journalism and Studio Art at the University of Iowa. Estlund served as the Residence Hall Advisor for the TRIO Upward Bound summer program this year.

For more information about the Iowa State University TRIO Upward Bound program, visit the program’s website.

Saylor Upah is a program advisor with the Iowa State University TRIO Upward Bound program.

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