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Program helps high schoolers

Amanda Gray | Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For Alyssia Coates, director of Upward Bound, the organization is like a hidden treasure among Notre Dame’s many service organizations.

“Although it’s been here for so long, it seems like no one knows it’s here,” said Upward Bound director Alyssia Coates.

But the program is hardly rare; Notre Dame’s branch is one of 750 across the country. At Notre Dame, the program’s main focus is to help low-income and first generation students from the South Bend area graduate high school and move on to college, according to the program’s Web site.

“We help students understand what their potential is, and draw out their strengths,” Coates said.

The Notre Dame branch is one of the oldest and has been in operation since 1966, Coates said.

“Father Hesburgh was a strong advocate for the Upward Bound program,” Coates said.

The Upward Bound program is one of seven programs in the TRIO program, and one of two at Notre Dame.

TRIO programs are government-funded programs that help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education, according to the TRIO Web site.

According to the program’s most recent newsletter, students learn through the four principles of dreams, decency, dignity and diligence.

The program is geared towards high school students, Coates said.

“We look for students who have the potential for college,” she said.

Several University students, like junior Mike Padberg, went through the Upward Bound program during their high school career.

“The program was great for me,” Padberg said. “It helped me stay on top of and complete my college and financial aid applications.”

Padberg also said that the program allowed him to see the world beyond South Bend when he went on a Spring Break trip to Boston in his senior year of high school. Trips like that are one of the things Coates enjoys most about working with the program.

“My favorite part of the program is exposing students to new and exciting things,” Coates said. “Providing those opportunities is the best.”

Two Notre Dame Upward Bound program graduates, seniors Thy Nguyen and Briana Miller, are graduating from Notre Dame this spring, according to the newsletter.

“Briana and Thy are testaments to the success of Notre Dame Upward Bound,” said the newsletter.

While Upward Bound receives federal funding, Coates said they have fundraisers throughout the year to earn money. A portion of proceeds raised at these events goes to high school seniors in the program.

One of these fundraisers, the first annual Father Ted Fun Run held last Spring Fun Run raised $5,000, enough to give 10 graduating high school seniors $500 towards college, she said. The second Fun Run will be on April 26. Coates said she hopes to raise at least $10,000 again this year.

Upward Bound is also hosting a fundraiser at Strikes and Spares in Mishawaka on Nov. 29, Coates said.