“The program helped me graduate with honors, helped me with tutoring and helped me get more involved in school,” Sunset Alum, Rosa Barrera
Creating a brand is not always easy, but for upcoming first-generation student Rosa Barrera it already seems more than a reality. Rosa’s vision of creating her own cosmetics business would not be possible without the assistance of the Dallas LNESC Upward Bound program. “If it were not for the Upward Bound program, I would have not thought about going to college,” Barrera said.
USA Today reports that “nearly half of Latino students are the first in their family to go to college, according to data analyzed by Excelencia. And just under half of them were eligible for federal Pell Grants, money only given to those with a high financial need.” The article cites that many Latinos do not think about going to college or finish their educational endeavors because of the lack of financial assistance. Because of the program, Rosa was able to receive financial assistance and work towards her goal of creating a business.
“The program helped me apply to many scholarships and helped me negotiate with the school,” Barrera said. “Because of them I was able to reach out to the school and get the full Texas Grant.” Rosa has now received more than 18,000 dollars in scholarships and believes it is due in part to the Upward Bound program.
Along with providing financial assistance, Upward Bound also played a big part in Barrera’s journey to attending college. Before accepting into Texas A&M Texarkana, Barrera had big dreams during her senior year at Sunset High School. “The program helped me graduate with honors, helped me with tutoring and helped me get more involved in school,” Barrera said. The assistance from the program helped Barrera graduate at the top of her class and further her educational opportunities.
Other ways that the Upward Bound program aids is through student exposure and opportunities. Right before the pandemic, students were provided with an opportunity to explore and tour Southern Methodist University (SMU). At the tour, students were able to speak with senior administrators and were able to get insights into the financial aid process. Barrera believes the exposure that the program provides, is what makes them unique. “On Fridays we would go on college trips and this helped us explore more options,” Barrera said.
If it were not for Upward Bound program, Barrera believes the pathway to college would have been a lot tougher. The constant exposure, financial assistance and amount of tutoring provided allowed for her to have a stress-free application process. “If it were not for the program, I would not have known what documents to process and been held up,” Barrera said.
Now because of the numerous opportunities provided, Rosa sees herself as more than just an upcoming first-generation college freshman. “I’m a role model now,” Barrera said. She now believes she can provide an example of the do’s and don’ts of college and provide a stepping stone for her little cousins to follow. If there is one thing Rosa could say it would be “Thank you to the Upward Bound Program. Without them I would be really lost.”