MOSES LAKE — Thirty-eight high school students from Grant and Adams counties were formally welcomed into Big Bend Community College’s TRiO Upward Bound Program Tuesday night.
The program aims to get more high school students into college, and by joining Upward Bound, students are pledging their commitment to pursuing a college education. That commitment is a big deal, and deserves to be recognized, said Big Bend TRiO Upward Bound Director Anita De Leon.
“You should feel very proud,” she told students.
This year’s inductees come from Moses Lake, Warden, Royal City and Othello high schools. Students were individually celebrated before coming together to take their official Upward Bound oath, which was delivered by Superior Court Judge David Estudillo.
They also heard from BBCC President Dr. Terry Leas, and from former TRiO Upward Bound graduate Erik Ramirez, who spoke about his experiences with the program.
Ramirez shared how it had always been a dream of his to be the first in his family to graduate from college. However, he had people in his life who doubted him because of his learning disability.
“It was just an opportunity for me to show that I could work hard and progress,” he said.
Ramirez pushed past his challenges, and finished middle school with a 3.9 GPA. It was at that moment he said he knew his dream was in reach.
“I knew then I had what it took to get into college, but I didn’t know how I would get there, how I would apply or even pay for college,” he said. “But I met (TRiO academic coordinator) Sue Workman and the rest of the team who went above and beyond to help me achieve my dream. They worked with me and believed in me and that meant a lot.”
Ramirez finished high school and was accepted into the University of Washington. After two years there, he transferred to Central Washington University and recently graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
He told the group of new inductees that whatever their dreams were, TRiO staff will help them get there.
“Don’t be afraid to set your goals high because you have the greatest support team in the world,” said Ramirez.
President Leas also noted the amount of support TRiO students receive while in the program.
“TRiO students are guided through many academic challenges from one success to the next,” said Leas. “Right now, our students may be excited, nervous, and even afraid of this next step. By the time they graduate, they will be confident that they are capable of doing college work successfully.”
The Upward Bound program at Big Bend has been on campus since 1967, and is one of the oldest Upward Bound programs in the nation. TRiO advisors help students who are from low-income backgrounds and who are often first-generation college students, with anything and everything college related- including tutoring, assistance with college and financial aid applications and SAT/ACT preparation.
In addition, students participate in a variety of cultural and social events while in the program. They also participate in the TRiO Upward Bound Summer Academy, which is held each year on the Big Bend campus.
The program is currently serving 123 students this academic year.
Full List of inductees, by school:
Moses Lake High School
Amya Anderson, Julian Bravo, Ivorie Bridges, Ramon Corona Jr., Gennavive Gomez, Laurissa Martinez, Rodrigo Martinez Antillon, Noelia Mendivil Berrelleza, and Madison Olson.
Royal High School
Kevin Aguirre-Ruiz, Lincoln Allen, Maria Armengol, Diana Barrera-Sandoval, Jacob Blevins, Karla Gallardo, Josue Gonzalez, Dawson Harris, Diana Hernandez, Amanda Justo-Victoriano, Cesar Lagunes-Ponce, Eric Mayo-Gutierrez, Jacky Mejia, Leslie Nunez, Lizeth Sotelo-Rosas and Iris Venegas.
Warden High School
Nataly Campos, Melissa Martinez Antillon, Axel Ramirez, Sophia Ramirez Duran, Arely Rangel, Alondra Rodriguez Luna, Allysa Valdez and Brisalen Villanueva.
Othello High School
Daniel Campos, Anthony Corona Peralta, Shaily Tlahuel, Julissa Valdez-Gomez and Edith Vizcarra.