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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Upward Bound: raising high schoolers to new heights

    Photo by Alex DeBuhr
    EOP offers students the chance to explore college routes.

    The Educational Opportunities Program in Coughlin Hall offers Milwaukee high school students a chance to enrich their educations. Thanks to mentors like Steven Robertson, associate director of pre-college programs, it is the gift that keeps on giving.

    For 40 years, the EOP has worked through Upward Bound program to deliver first generation students a chance to blossom in the classroom environment.

    Upward Bound is a summer program where students have the chance to be on campus and talk with counselors with advice on college prep and the classes they are taking in high school.

    “We try to expose them to the whole world and we believe that early on if we start to identify dreams and goals, they will be less likely to succumb to the temptations of the world,” Robertson said.

    Students apply to the program in eighth grade or at the beginning of high school. Robertson said they currently have about 150 students involved in the Upward Bound program. Classes are held on Saturdays help students with ACT prep, personal essays and anything else they may need help with.

    Robertson said that every student has a counselor that sits down with the student’s family to talk them through the process.

    As a child, Robertson grew up in Milwaukee in a single-headed household raised by his sister. When he learned about the opportunities through Upward Bound he applied.

    “I came into the program not knowing what I wanted to do but I wanted success. Upward Bound, I liken it to romancing the stone, applying pressure and over time bringing out their innate potential… our mantra is, ‘I may be a diamond in the rough, but I’m a diamond sure enough,'” Robertson said.

    But, it was not just about the education he received, he said it was also about the people he was able to meet.

    “Some counselors I remember to this day made a huge impact on my life. For me to bring it full circle and help other people realize their potential and help them bring out the greatness that is there … it’s amazing,” Robertson said.

    Mauricio Campero is a pre-college counselor at Marquette through Upward Bound. He was in the program since he was a kid, applying when he was in eighth grade. Now he is giving back to the other students apart of the program.

    “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had. College wasn’t something I had in mind or thought was possible because no one in my family went to college,” Campero said. “My sister tried but she didn’t graduate, and she is the smartest person I know, so it seemed like college was this monster that was defeating everyone.”

    Little by little, through Upward Bound’s help, Campero was able to defeat the college monster.

    “It was extremely helpful, I definitely saw a dramatic change in my GPA, and the ACT prep courses were beneficial,” he said. “Even socially, I met a lot of lifelong friends through this program. I just went to one of their weddings.”

    Through Upward Bound, Campero was given access to all of Marquette’s facilities. This exposed Campero to the college lifestyle and gave him the confidence he needed to get through high school and go to college.

    “We want these students to realize they have great potential and it’s bigger than just what you see. Sometimes you only see what you can see, you can’t envision and dream for more. So we try to get them to see that it is a big world out there and it is a lot bigger than your neighborhood,” Robertson said.

    Because of the strong support group Campero had established at Marquette, he decided to stay in his hometown. He said having people that he already knew helped him a lot during his first year at college.

    Now as a counselor, Campero is giving back to students who are in need and helping them develop their own confidence. Through his time spent as a student in Upward Bound, he said he is able to relate to students going through the program.

    “I can say, ‘Hey I’ve been through the program, I understand,’ … and seeing someone that went through the same experience allows me to connect with them more,” Campero said.

    Campero said that it was through the motivation of Robertson that he was able to take on the role of a counselor and help students who had the same struggles as he did

    Malik Hamilton, a sophomore in the College of Education, learned about the program through his brother. Hamilton said through the program he was able to learn more about himself and his role in the world.

    “What kids my age were looking up to, it wasn’t guys who went to college and opened up opportunities for their families… so there were a lot of people who were easily misguided,” Hamilton said.

    Hamilton’s counselor was Campero. Hamilton said that Campero taught him how to give back to the community.

    “He always told me, ‘Pay it forward. What I am helping you to do right now, whether it is giving you a ride, advice or whatever, I want you to be that same person.’ That has been my biggest thing and it went from advice to a lifestyle,” Hamilton said.

    Hamilton said that Upward Bound shed a light on an opportunity he would not have been able to achieve without the help of the program and the mentors.

    This story was written by Connor Baldwin. He can be reached at [email protected]

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    About the Contributor
    Connor Baldwin
    Connor Baldwin, MUR Audio News Producer
    Connor Baldwin is a junior from Penacook, New Hampshire studying digital media and the MUR audio news producer for the 2023-2024 school year. In addition to his role on radio, Connor serves as a reporter for the projects desk. In his free time, Connor enjoys hiking. This year, he is looking forward to writing meaningful stories for the Wire.

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