Two programs at the University of Nevada, Reno are giving underrepresented students in the Truckee Meadows the opportunity to attend summer camp and become familiar with and comfortable in the campus setting. Through classes, mentoring, internships and college campus experiences, these camps are setting students up for continued academic success. While the programs vary in scope, the intent behind them is the same – offer low-income, first-generation students the tools needed to succeed on the path to higher education and career readiness.
A federal TRiO Program, Upward Bound is celebrating its 48th year at the University of Nevada, Reno. The program supports high school students from first-generation, low income families in their pursuit of a college education. During the summer, Upward Bound holds a rigorous five-week summer academy for 14- to 17- year-old high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from six target high schools in Washoe and Lyon counties.
This summer, 63 students are living in Argenta Hall Sunday through Friday while receiving a complete, intensive college experience. In addition to attending academic courses, students are participating in co-curricular programming surrounding the summer’s focused theme, the Global Impact of World War II. Some students are also completing an on-campus internship, while others are learning about video production by producing a film for the national 50 year anniversary of Upward Bound.
“This program is about getting these students ahead for the coming year and pushing them to see what they can do,” Ellen Houston, director of Upward Bound programs, said. “Upward Bound is the most intensive college preparatory program for first-generation students. This program provides kids who don’t otherwise have the resources to attend summer camps with the opportunity to live on a college campus and get a summer experience. Our students get ahead of the curve, do well in school, graduate and matriculate to higher education.”
Upward Bound is 100 percent federally funded. The programs at the University are on a five-year grant cycle, with three grants, funded through 2017. This year, 186 students are being served by the program on the University’s campus. Mary Quiroga, an Upward Bound alumna, said the program changed her life and helped her identify who she was as a person and what she wanted for herself.
“Through Upward Bound and the summer program, I was able to experience what college was like,” Quiroga said. “I got to know the campus, went to different cultural events and really began building relationships with the other Upward Bound program participants. It made me feel like I got a head start.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students,” Houston said. “This program makes the transition easier from high school to college because these students already know how to navigate a university campus and access the full slate of support resources at their disposal.”
Dean’s Future Scholars is an academic outreach program housed in the University’s College of Education. The program is in its 14th year of serving its goal to increase the number of low-income, first-generation students graduating from high school, gaining access to higher education and entering a career in the field of education.
Funded through a variety of grants and private donations, DFS is a home-grown outreach program. It was established in 2000 by William Sparkman, the dean of the College of Education from 1998-2010. According to Mariluz Garcia, DFS director, the program offers a rich community for students, including mentors, most of whom are former DFS students.