As Kate Cazares walked the halls while attending Alvin High School as a student, she had never entertained the idea of becoming an educator.
After volunteering as a Sunday school teacher, her advisors with the Upward Bound program at Alvin Community College suggested that maybe she should pursue education as a career.
“They kept encouraging me and motivating me,” Cazares said. “If I didn’t have them in my path, I wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith.”
Cazares graduated from the Upward Bound program in 2019 and would go on to earn an Early Childhood Education degree from ACC. She now works as a site coordinator with Communities in Schools at ‘Bel Sanchez Elementary.
Cazares was the guest speaker at the Upward Bound Recognition Dinner on July 26. The event celebrated the program’s 20th Anniversary of helping high school students transition into higher education.
“This is a really important night,” said Robert Sanchez, Upward Bound director. “Our goal is to empower everyone in this room. This program has empowered generations of students.”
Upward Bound seeks to motivate low-income and/or potential first-generation college students and help them develop the skills they need to complete secondary education and succeed at the postsecondary educational institution of their choice. The purpose of the program is to build confidence and self-esteem, while providing the necessary tools and guidance to foster academic success.
The federally-funded program is created by the Department of Education and works with Alvin High School students.
Upward Bound students receive tutoring for their classes; take campus tours of Texas colleges; participate in academic and athletic competitions as well as receive help applying for college and financial aid.
This past year, Upward Bound students also visited campuses in Louisiana to learn more about their programs while also having the opportunities for cultural experiences on their trips.
Those opportunities are important for students so they can see the possibilities for their education outside of high school, Cazares said.
“Upward Bound exposed me to many schools, programs and experiences,” she said. “Because of that I was able to reach many of my academic goals.”