Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Loyola Marymount University’s Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math & Science programs, which provide educational and personal support to local high school students, have had great success this year. The programs recently announced that 35 high school seniors—every single one who was part of the program—are set to enroll at four year-institutions in the fall. Students have committed to attending several CSU campuses throughout the state, as well as UC schools such as Merced, Davis, Riverside, San Diego, Irvine, and Los Angeles. Private institutions include LMU, USC, Stanford, Grand Canyon University, along with HBCUs Bethune Cookman and Texas Southern University. “Despite the challenges of over a year of remote learning and the stress associated with the college selection and application journey, the Class of 2021 has risen to the occasion,” said Norma Romero Ed.D. ’20, project director for UB and UBMS. She added her special thanks to the staff—associate director Aaron Beasley and academic advisors Dulce Jauregui and Paola Perez for guiding and supporting the students throughout the year.
Beasley, who assists UB and UBMS students and their families through the application, selection and commitment process commended the Class of 2021 for their resilience. “Students dealt with anxiety, depression, and family members contracting COVID, all while adapting to virtual learning,” he said, adding that students never lost sight of the goals they wanted to achieve.
The social and racial reckoning that erupted last year also took its toll on students, but true to form, UB and UBMS staff found ways to support them. They designed a summer social justice series titled “Keeping It Real,” coordinated by Perez, which according to her, “was intended to provide space for reflection, education, discussion, and growth surrounding topics regarding racial injustice, criminal justice reform, and youth activism and allyship.”
Beasley also added that the Class of 2021 “put in the time and effort to meet with CSU, UC and LMU admission counselors virtually, to learn how to stand out in the comprehensive review process.” This led to applications being submitted to 380 schools, resulting in more than 225 acceptances and one Gates Scholar.
The Upward Bound (UB) program was first implemented at LMU in 2007. Federally funded by the U.S Department of Education along with contributions from LMU, the program assists low-income high school students in graduating and becoming first-generation college undergraduates. In 2017, LMU created an additional program, Upward Bound Math & Science (UBMS); both programs are housed within LMU’s School of Education. Each year these programs serve roughly 60 students in grades 9-12 at Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets. UB and UBMS have just begun their six-week virtual summer program and are in the initial stages of preparing grant proposals for the next five-year award competition. The successful attainment of mandated federal program objectives are critical to continued funding.