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TRIO Upward Bound helps high schoolers get college experience on TXWES campus

08.23.2023 | By: Valerie Spears
Upward Bound students work together on a project in a lab

Over the summer, the TRIO Upward Bound Programs brought 135 students from local high schools to Texas Wesleyan University to attend summer classes and workshops.  

We know what you’re thinking — school during the summer? But, why? Turns out there’s a pretty great benefit to taking some summer classes, like taking field trips and getting ahead on college prep.  

TRIO Upward Bound has two programs hosted at Texas Wesleyan: TRIO Upward Bound (UB) and TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS). The TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science Program has been at Texas Wesleyan for 20 years and is the only TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science Program in Fort Worth.  

Each program has two grants serving 60 students per grant and helps disadvantaged students succeed by gaining access to college and graduating with higher education degrees. The program has two components every year, an academic and summer. 

During the academic year, the programs provide various services, including tutoring, academic advising, counseling, mentoring, college and career research, field trips and cultural enrichment activities.

“The whole purpose of the program is to provide an access point for students to be able to get information about different colleges and careers,” said Daniel Rodriguez, TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science coordinator. “Once they get to their senior year of high school, we also help them with their college applications, scholarships, financial aid and everything else that comes with attending college.”  

The program then extends to summer which exposes students to the college environment. During the summer component, they attend classes at Texas Wesleyan for six weeks that range from helping them get prepared in math and sciences, to learning how to make robots, and gaining life skills like budgeting. Students register for classes, get issued a TXWES ID that they can use for breakfast and lunch at Dora’s Café, and get their own class schedule. Classes are taught by teachers around the area, including Fort Worth ISD and Tarrant County College. 

“The whole point of summer component is to provide a college experience for the students,” Rodriguez said. “They learn so much. They’re here, sitting through our sessions and getting to learn about different information that they’ve probably never been told or talked about with,” Rodriguez said. “And little by little, they start to open up and trust you.”  

Field trips are also planned each summer to help enrich their experiences, from doing community service to seeing other college campuses to having some fun exploring Dallas-Fort Worth.  

“We try to take them somewhere they've never been before, but also something that's a little fun,” Rodriguez said. “One field trip this summer was to the Botanical Gardens, the students got to clean and pull weeds. This was an eye-opening experience because they did not know how much work is put behind the scenes for a large venue like this.” 

The students also volunteered at Tandy Hills Natural Area to help clean up trash. The Tandy Hills area is a special place for many at Texas Wesleyan, as it is just a few miles north of the school and is being helped by Dr. Bruce Benz with his study on invasive plants in the area.  

The program’s high school seniors have the opportunity to attend a bigger trip if they complete the summer component and pass all of their classes. This year, they headed north to Chicago to see colleges like Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. They also explored the local area, attended a Cubs game, checked out the Lincoln Park Zoo and Museum of Science and Industry. 

“They had so much fun,” Rodriguez said. “For many of them, that was their first time on a plane. They were able to go to all these attractions that they may not have gotten the opportunity to see before. 

“Parents are always very grateful that their kids can participate in a program like ours. Whenever we talk to parents, parents usually want to put the rest of their kids in our program.”  

Each year, around 5% of these students attend Texas Wesleyan. The focus of the program is to help students fulfill their higher education dreams, no matter what major or college they wish to attend. Both TRIO Upward Bound programs have continued to provide our local students with the steps they need to succeed in college.