Everett High School, Lansing, MI – Class of 1994
Upward Bound was important for me because it gave me the opportunity to be around other first-generation minority students who were socially and economically disadvantaged. I felt I had a place to share similar experiences. It prepared and exposed me to university campus life and, most of all, provided several mentors that inspired me to obtain my high school diploma and a college degree.
The exposure to college life that Upward Bound provided helped ease my transition from high school to college. It also provided a supportive network that encouraged the importance of obtaining a college education. The program truly helped me prepare for life challenges and the importance of self-discipline.
My favorite memory from Upward Bound was picking up my stipend. I couldn’t believe I was being awarded financial assistance, getting tutored free of charge, being given the opportunity to get three college application fees paid for, and, most of all, being able to hang out with my minority peers. It really was a place of encouragement and an outlet of positivity for me.
Upward Bound was helpful to me in my career in several ways. First, it helped me understand not only how to be a good student, but also how to be a good mentee. I quickly realized the concept of “pay it forward” as I now serve as a mentor to others. Second, I used to think I would never graduate from high school, let alone college. The statistics showed a high probability of digression versus progression and being able to rise up and beat those odds gave me strong confidence in my approach to taking on challenging work assignments. Finally, without Upward Bound, I would never have met my “second mother” – Sandra Firestone. She was a big influence on the adult I am today. She helped me in so many ways – I can’t thank her enough! She is a special leader who is empathetic, humble, and the most heart-driven person I have ever met.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business, with a major in Supply Chain Management, from MSU and I currently work as an operations project and facilities manager at Steelcase, Inc. In this position, I have leadership responsibilities in new product development, product flow and cost optimization as well as facility management.
I used to hear the words, “opportunity doesn’t knock; you have to knock on opportunity.” I encourage kids to take the initiative to break the cycle of being a disadvantaged youth. Upward Bound provides a vast amount of opportunities, tools to overcome challenges, and experiences that will help not only progress them, but their families and future families to come.