Upward Bound: College Prep Program Helps First-Generation Students

RENO, Nev. -- While most students use the summer to play in the pool or hang out with friends, a group of high school students is choosing to spend time in the classroom. It's all part of a college preparatory program called Upward Bound and it's completely free.

The students want to work in law enforcement, the medical field and even the news, but these big dreams never seemed possible to some students because of where they come from.

"As a low-income family, i don't have any way of going to college," Lyndzie Harris, fourth-year Upward Bound student, said.

Upward Bound helps them realize their full potential by teaching them how to write scholarship essays and fill out applications, while also giving them a jump-start to the new school year.

"You get to experience so much that a lot of people don't get to see and being able to say that you got to do all this while you were still in high school," said Yazmin Gonzalez, a fourth-year student. "I feel like it's such a bump up from other kids applying to college."

For six weeks, students enroll in the intensive academic summer program that introduces them to different career paths and strengthen their knowledge of core subjects.

"You may go in thinking one thing and then you start getting these ideas like 'oh this interests me more,'" Gonzalez said.

This year, they've added a medical internship program. Because the students are still minors, HIPPA laws make it difficult to place them in hospital settings or physicians' offices. Instead, the program had to create alternative activities that still give them hands-on experience.

"Everything we do is hands on. The opportunity to actually do things, which i think is the most important for sticking with someone and getting them excited about what they're doing," Gina Sella, educational outreach coordinator, said.

In a lab, students are learning how to perform CPR on a simulated dummy that has all the main functions of a human from breathing to child birth.

It's no vacation on the beach, but students don't seem to want to leave.

"It is life-changing because you find people that you will know for the rest of your life," Harris said. "It's really good to be here because Upper Bound is like a family."

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