College Prep Continues Through Upward Bound Summer Academy
By Mike Emery
Each summer, the University of Houston-Downtown’s Upward Bound Summer Academy welcomes area high school students to campus for an early preview of the college experience.
With COVID-19 in effect, students couldn't come to UHD this summer, but the Upward Bound team (led by director Dawana Lewis) remained undaunted. More than 80 students participated in a virtual program that included online campus tours, guest speakers, career assessments and counseling, college fairs, a virtual graduation and other activities aimed at preparing them for life after high school.
“We weren’t going to let the pandemic cancel Summer Academy,” Lewis said. “It’s important to these students, so we made sure that we continued the academy virtually and provided a quality, interactive program.”
Upward Bound operates year-round, but Summer Academy remains its largest outreach event, connecting with high school students from throughout the city. Since 1980, the program has helped Houston high school students recognize their academic potential and prepare for college through the annual Summer Academy and after-school programming conducted each fall and spring.
In addition to receiving guidance on higher education and careers, students also received complimentary snack boxes that were delivered to them each week. Students also were able to pick up free lunches either through curbside services at UHD (with distancing and safety protocols in place) or at Madison High School or Worthing High School.
“This was important,” Lewis said. “Some of our students depend on this kind of outreach … whether it’s a snack box for those students who are experiencing food insecurity … or just the connection with a counselor or an encouraging voice.”
In addition to Lewis, Summer Academy welcomed a number of guest speakers and included mentorship from UHD students Crystal Alcaraz, Deycy Uroza and Diamonique Spiller Hunt.
“These students were invaluable to this event,” Lewis said. “They were very creative when it came to engaging students through online and social media platforms.”
The virtual program kicked off in June and concluded last week. Upward Bound will continue to host after school and Saturday programming this fall.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.