09:27 AM

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.


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – 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 more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.