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College mentoring program expands to Carson Valley schools

by Merrie Leininger

A college preparatory course that has been held through the University of Nevada, Reno for years has found its way to the Carson Valley.

Upward Bound mentors students whose family members have never attended college or who have a low income level through high school.

Program Coordinator Elizabeth Doane spoke to 8th and 9th graders at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School Thursday.

Doane said the goal of the program is to increase the number of Nevada students who continue on to college.

“We’re real excited. This is the first year we have been given money to work with students outside of the Reno area. We are going to Carson City, Dayton, Fernley and Douglas,” she said.

Laurie Pasqua is a local educational advisor who is working with Upward Bound.

“It think it’s going to be very successful once we get people involved. It gives students a lot of information and how to relate once they get into college – things they don’t know about or even think about,” Pasqua said.

She said students from the 8th to 10th grade can apply.

The program has been sponsored by the United States Department of Education since 1967 and there are 772 programs at colleges across the country.

Doane said students must commit to taking part in the program until they go to college. Students also get the benefit of tutoring, classes on college campuses and college visits. The program is free.

This spring break, she is taking students to Washington, D.C. to visit four colleges and see some sights along the way.

One Saturday a month, workshops are held at UNR in English, math, science, foreign languages and study skills for high school credit. In the summer, a six-week session is held. Students live on campus and attend classes during the day for college credit. Students’ parents pick them up for the weekend. One night a week, their parents can visit. The other nights, they take part in activities such as skating, climbing or skiing with the group.

“We know all academics and no fun time is not good,” Doane said.

She said a trip to visit four schools in California is planned, and the group will visit an amusement park and other sites while there. On March 7, students already in the program will have a chance to shadow UNR students in their field of interest.

“They will see what it really takes to major in engineering and what the classes are like,” Doane said.

The program provides students opportunities to take mock ACT and SAT tests and provides parent workshops on college applications and financial aid forms.

Students in the program are expected to be hard workers with plans to attend college.

“We look for students who really want to go to college, and how can you show us you are serious about going to college?” Doane asked. “By getting good grades.”

She said the average GPA for students accepted in the program is 2.7 to 3.5. Terra Nova scores are also considered and four letters of recommendation are needed. Then, the student and his or her parent are interviewed.

PWLMS students were impressed with the program.

“They help you get into college,” 9th-grader Ashley Morris said. “I want to be a veterinarian. I think it’s a good program that helps kids a lot. I really want to do it.”

Meagan Young, a 9th grader, said she didn’t think she would be able to go to college until attending the meeting.

“I want to be a pediatrician,” she said. “That (the program) is free and they help you find money to go to college is really great.”

For more information, contact school counselors at the UNR Upward Bound office at (775) 784-4978.