The Marist Upward Bound Program was founded in 1966 and is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. It is a federally funded college preparatory program designed to generate in its participants the skills and motivation necessary to persist in completing their secondary education and enter and complete a program of postsecondary education. Marist College Director of Upward Bound and Marist alumna, Gladys Negron-Collier, was a participant before her time at Marist and was eager to give back to the program. We spoke with her to learn more about her work with the program. Congratulations on 50 years of success!
Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do?
“As director, I supervise the Upward Bound program and support the academic goals of high school students. These students are either first generation, do not meet financial requirements, or are at academic risk. I work with a wide range of students who are genuinely interested in going to college. We work to build academic and social skills by offering tutoring, counseling, and college tours.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
“When our students come back and tell us they earned a degree. Sometimes they pay a visit or write to me online. This year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary and recently hosted an alumni event for our past students. I work with the same students for 4 years in high school and help them get into a 2 or 4 year college program. For 50 years Upward Bound has been successful despite the fact each year we have vastly different students coming to us with different needs, but that’s why I like it. It’s never the same. I always want to do better and work with students and parents. I help them stay afloat not get lost.”
What made you want to work for Marist?
“I was a first generation low-income student who came to Upward Bound. I wanted to come back and help other students. I can remember the moment when I was suddenly hit with all of this writing, reading, and research. I was overwhelmed. I came back to Upward Bound to make sure students were informed about the challenges and obstacles of a college campus. All of the Upward Bound staff is first generation, so we’ve all experienced these challenges firsthand. We teach our students how to deal with homesickness, manage their time, and learn the ins and outs of college.”
How have you seen the college change?
“Marist has grown a lot. It’s a beautiful campus with the best student interest at heart. There are great support services and mentoring systems in place. There is a lot of creativity in student affairs and services. Marist runs a tight ship, but it is genuinely interested in everyone’s success.”
Interview conducted by Cara Sebest
Taken From: Center for Multicultural Affairs Quarterly Newsletter. Fall 2016