Jonathan Figueroa is a junior at Topeka High School and a self-described “numbers guy”. He joined The University of Kansas TRIO Math and Science Center (MSC) when he was a freshman after his cousin recommended it to him.
The KU Math and Science Center is a TRIO Upward Bound program that helps students who are first-generation or from low-income families strengthen their math and science skills. Through rigorous classes, exposure to professional careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), visits to colleges across the country, and a residential summer camp, MSC provides a foundation for success in the math and science fields.
More than two years after joining the program, Jonathan is glad that he joined. He credits the director of the program, Hong Chuong, with helping him expand his horizons. “Mr. Chuong wants to see all the students in the program eventually go to college,” he explained. The program “has really been helping me” think about and prepare for life after high school, Jonathan said.
One of Jonathan’s favorite parts of MSC is visiting different colleges. Through the program, he has visited campuses in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. The college visits have helped Jonathan to plan for his future, which might include attending an out-of-state college. “The biggest obstacle will be leaving Topeka, which isn’t that big of a city. When you leave to go to college, if you go to New York University or somewhere like that, you will have to get used to a much bigger city. But Mr. Chuong [and MSC] really helped us with that by taking us to so many different places.”
Another highlight of MSC for Jonathan is the residential summer camp experience held on the campus of the University of Kansas. “I got to live in the dorms on the KU campus along with my friends,” he said. “It felt like I was an actual college student!” Just as MSC was recommended to him, Jonathan wants to recommend it to other students. “If you are looking to go to college and you want to be prepared and you want to experience new things, this is the program for you.”