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NMSU’s Upward Bound program at Hatch Valley high school helps prepare students for college

In 2017, New Mexico State University received federal funding to create a new partnership with Hatch Valley high school for Upward Bound Programs. The programs support 60 students each year.


Girl holds an animal.
While in high school at Hatch Valley, New Mexico State University freshman Carolina Trejo participated in the TRIO Upward Bound programs for two years. She also attended the Upward Bound Bridge Residential Summer Program, which helps students transition from secondary education to postsecondary education the summer following their high school graduation. (Courtesy photo)

“The Hatch community as a whole has embraced the TRIO Upward Bound’s presence at Hatch Valley High School,” said Lourdes Ambriz, Upward Bound program director. “The most significant piece of what we do as a program is being available to help our participants, to answer their questions and guide them through the often scary and overwhelming process of enrolling in postsecondary education - especially for our first-generation students.

“Through our availability and assistance, we ensure a successful transition from secondary to post-secondary by addressing issues that often discourage incoming freshmen from completing their postsecondary enrollment,” Ambriz said.

Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

“TRIO Upward Bound was an amazing experience, said Carolina Trejo, NMSU freshman nursing student, who was a two-year participant at Hatch Valley. “I was able to learn so much throughout the program. They made the activities very engaging and interesting. I was able to learn about scholarships, FAFSA, colleges and so much more.

“This program gave light to the possibility that any college is attainable if we try our hardest. A major contribution to the TRIO Upward Bound program is the unconditional support that the coordinator Kaylene Womack and director Lourdes Ambriz provided us with,” Trejo said.

In addition to its programming during the academic year, the Upward Bound Bridge Residential Summer Program helps students during the summer following their high school graduation. This program aids students with their transition from secondary education to postsecondary education.

The students enroll at NMSU and take a freshmen-level English course, Freshmen Year Experience course or a general education course during the summer session to earn seven college credit hours. Students live on campus and receive mentoring, tutoring, complete an internship with a department on campus and register for fall courses.

“The summer Bridge Program was an unforgettable experience,” Trejo said. “I was able to see how college would be like even if it wasn’t the full experience. I was able to meet new people and branch out more than usual. It helped me figure out that I really enjoy the freedom of coming to college and be able to experience what studying is like. It also gave me a good sense of time management on the parts that I needed to improve on.

“In high school my biggest challenge was figuring out the next steps to where I wanted to go, how to get there and what I needed to do before I get there. My Upward Bound experience helped me with college by providing me with more information about my options such as what college I wanted to go to. They also informed me about the different requirements that would help me in the future,” Trejo said.

To learn more about the TRIO Upward Bound programs visit https://trioub.nmsu.edu.