by George Zamora
SOCORRO, N.M., Sept. 21, 2007 – The United States Department of Education has selected New Mexico Tech as the latest recipient of a competitive federal grant to establish an Upward Bound program at the state-supported university in Socorro.
The four-year grant will provide New Mexico Tech with a total of $1 million, or $250,000 a year, and will fund a minimum of 50 high school students selected each year as program participants.
New Mexico Tech’s Upward Bound program will serve three high schools in Albuquerque, specifically Albuquerque High School, Highland High School, and West Mesa High School.
Upward Bound was created by the U.S. Higher Education Act of 1965 to increase the rate at which at-risk students from low-income families graduate from high school and become the first in their families to enroll in and graduate from colleges and universities.
New Mexico Tech is the latest among various institutions of higher education in the country to host an Upward Bound program. There are now about 800 such programs available throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
"I speak for all of us here at New Mexico Tech who are involved with this new Upward Bound program in saying that we are very grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for providing start-up funds for this important outreach and support program,” said Ricardo Maestas, vice president for student and university relations at New Mexico Tech. “Through it, we hope to be able to provide students with extremely valuable services during their high school careers.”
Since 1966, hundreds of thousands of students from high schools with the highest dropout rates in the nation have successfully completed the Upward Bound program and have gone on to matriculate at some of the finest colleges and universities in the country.
“We are delighted that this legacy of proven success will now be associated with New Mexico Tech," said Maestas.
Upward Bound programs typically offer participating students instruction in fundamental and advanced level courses, counseling, tutoring, academic support workshops, career development, work-study placement, student support services, field trips, and multi-cultural and social activities.
“Through Upward Bound, students learn to work collaboratively to improve critical thinking skills and become better learners,” said Cheryl Pulaski, New Mexico Tech’s director for advancement. “Through this funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education, New Mexico Tech will be able to offer ample assistance and guidance to the selected students, so that they can meet the challenges of a high school curriculum.”
Pulaski was tasked with drafting and submitting the applications and associated materials which successfully garnered funding for Tech’s Upward Bound program.
The year-round program administered by New Mexico Tech will be implemented during regular school years at the Albuquerque high school campuses, and will include a six-week summer residential program at the research university’s campus in Socorro.
A recent nationwide study of Upward Bound graduates of the last seven years showed that 99 percent of them are accepted into programs of post-secondary education, 97 percent enroll, and 76 percent eventually graduate from college.
“I’m sure that New Mexico Tech’s Upward Bound program will attain or exceed the level of success the program has historically had with students who otherwise would have little or no hope of pursuing an education beyond high school,” said Maestas.
“It is encouraging and gratifying to be able to challenge these New Mexico students, all the while preparing them for all the higher educational opportunities that are possible for them,” he said.