When Jadifaye Dineros returns to Kearny High this fall as a sophomore student, her responsibilities in a new leadership role will significantly increase. Soon to be the sophomore class president, this opportunity will likely include the need for her to perform an important skill: public speaking.
That’s why Dineros, one of 51 Kearny High students living on the USD campus to attend this summer’s five-week TRiO Upward Bound program, enjoyed being on USD’s Aromas stage last Thursday night. It was here that she was one of 16 students to read an assigned poem about their upbringing, but later, she delivered an impromptu spoken word effort during Open Mic Night that produced rousing applause.
“Please take a look around,
Everyone here is Upward Bound
We are all from different places
And we wear many faces
Life at USD isn’t so bad
’Cause when you’re with your friends you’re never sad.
We have faced many challenges, yet we still keep going,
Negativity doesn’t stop us, because curiosity keeps on glowing.”
“A teacher introduced me to the idea of joining Upward Bound, thinking it would be a good, new experience,” Dineros said. “Being here has brought something out in me. These poems are a good way to know more about other people and to learn from them.”
Dineros (pictured, left), the brother and sister duo of Terre and Tara Block (pictured, top right) are among several who’ve gained a lot from Upward Bound. Its “family” atmosphere, according to one student, produces a boost in personal growth, helps forge new friendships and enhances learning through academics, field trips and activities. The USD Upward Bound program — one of 760 nationally — is in its 14th year. It’s a prime way, simply because of where it is located, for participants to get interested in college and acclimate to being on a college campus.
“If this wasn’t here in the summer, I might be just staying home, watching TV and eating snacks on the couch,” said Terre Block, a rising senior. “This program has been very resourceful. It’s a key to open the door to my aspirations of attending college.”
Rising junior Tara Block said it’s been a forensics class that has piqued her curiosity this summer about attending law school and becoming a lawyer. “It’s been a blessing. It has really broadened my mind to so many things.”
Upward Bound is one of many federally funded programs Cynthia Villis, PhD, director of the Institute for College Initiatives at USD, oversees.Like other ICI programs such as McNair Scholars and Student Support Services, Upward Bound provides a caring staff, many of whom are alumni themselves and want to give back and share the importance of the program to current students.
“It’s filled with academic achievement and cultural activities, all in the context of a community of college-going high school and college students from first-generation and/or income-eligible backgrounds,” Villis said. “This summer, in particular, we highlighted Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields with chemistry workshops and a STEM tutoring specialist.”
There are 21 seniors and 22 juniors in the current group. Students attend four classes a day, Monday through Thursday. They go on field trips to San Diego County attractions such as the Air and Space Museum at Balboa Park, Mission Bay Aquatics Center, San Diego Zoo Safari Park at night and a San Diego Padres baseball game. They also make college visits to University of Redlands and UC Riverside and, considering they live nearby, they learned more about USD. Special on-campus activities have included a film festival, talent show, dance, reflection night and fun-filled games of capture the flag.
“Our students,” Villis said, “understand they’re eligible for college at four levels — information they receive (e.g., Senior Seminar), coursework they accomplish, the community they join and participate in and the campus experience they so enjoy — and it results in a self-confidence inside that can’t be taken away.”
— Ryan T. Blystone