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When Alicia Reyes joined the University of Kansas TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science — Leavenworth/Turner (UBMS-LT), she did not realize how many opportunities the program would afford her. The UBMS-LT program is a pre-college access program designed to help students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science and encourage them to pursue postsecondary degrees and careers within those fields. As Alicia prepares for her upcoming senior year at Turner High School, she reflected on some of her experiences with the UBMS-LT program over the past two years.

While UBMS-LT focuses on academic growth, the program also fosters social and emotional skill development. Alicia describes the program as going beyond typical college preparation by helping students maximize their potential in all areas of their lives. “The cultural events that we do get away from academics and go into who you are. I like how they focus on both aspects for an individual and it can really help someone find what they want to do or find who they are.” She highlights the program’s community service events in particular as influential to her personal growth. For Alicia, community service events were “more than just a resume builder. They also helped me realize that I really do like helping people on my own time.”

Next, to make sure she has a competitive college application, Alicia took advantage of ACT prep courses that UBMS-LT offers. “They provided us with textbooks that really helped me. Our teacher helped us go through each textbook so we knew what to study on our own time.” She said that participating in a formal ACT course made her feel more confident and prepared for taking the test.

To help Alicia explore her postsecondary and career options, she attended several college visits sponsored by UBMS-LT. Reflecting on this experience, Alicia expressed gratitude for the opportunity to visit and explore a variety of colleges to help her decide on the right school for her. Having the chance to speak with faculty and admissions officers at some of her dream schools helped Alicia to better understand the college-going process, expectations of what it takes to be admitted, and how to succeed when she enrolls. Although Alicia is still undecided about which major she will pursue in college, she knows that she wants to focus on a career that allows her to serve her community.

Finally, whether a college visit or community service opportunities, Alicia knows that the UBMS-LT staff are there to support her. “You can tell it is not just what they have to do but they love doing it. They are people I can go to and adults I can trust.” When asked to summarize her many experiences with the UBMS-LT program, Alicia concluded, “I feel connected with the staff on a personal level: they are here to relate to me and help me grow as a person.”

TRIO | GEAR UP | CAMP | STEP UP — CEOP, building a legacy of learners and leaders through a commitment to educational equity. ceop.ku.edu | @CEOPmedia

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