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Upward Bound Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Upward Bound LogoHigh School Upward Bound (HSUB) is celebrating its 50th anniversary nationally this year. The federally funded TRIO program, which started at MCTC 30 years ago, has helped over two million low-income and first-generation high school students with the transition to college. This includes assisting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, applying for scholarships and taking students on college visits.

Shirley Sanders has been the MCTC program’s director for 25 of the last 30 years. Over the years, students have been her number one priority.

“We’re here to serve students,” she said. “I love what I do, and It’s very rewarding to see my students graduate.”

Once a student working in in MCTC’s HSUB program, Sanders always pictured a career working with younger students. Now with HSUB, every day is unique.

Bai Lee enrolled in MCTC’s HSUB program in 2001 when she was in ninth grade at Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul. Like many of HSUB’s students, Lee was a first-generation and low-income student. During her four years with the program, she made several college visits, attended numerous workshops and felt better prepared for college when she arrived at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls in 2004.

“Aside from academics, High School Upward Bound helped me build relationships and have a social life,” she said. “When you’re in high school, you stick with the same people. In Upward Bound, I was able to meet people from different high schools and form new friendships.”

Lee and her six siblings, who were also enrolled in HSUB, are very grateful to have been involved. Financial aid was an unfamiliar concept to her before the program introduced her to different options to help pay for her college education.

Even after students leave the program to attend college, HSUB advisors call to check in with students and see if they need guidance. For Lee, this was just another part of the HSUB experience.

Lee is now working as an academic advisor for the TRIO program Educational Talent Search at MCTC. She works with high school students and often sees a lot of herself in students.

“I see a reflection of who I once was,” she said.

MCTC’s HSUB program has introduced hundreds of students to the ins and outs of post-secondary education. For Sanders, the program’s 50th Anniversary is a stamp of approval.

“Upward Bound and the other TRIO programs have proven themselves and still deliver the services we’re committed to,” she said.

In addition to Upward Bound, MCTC offers the following TRIO programs: Veterans Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, Starting Point, and Educational Opportunity Center.
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