LAS CRUCES — In 1989, Susan C. Brown, then director of the Center for Learning Assistance, saw the need to help low-income and first-generation students and applied for the first TRIO Upward Bound scholarship at the University of State of New Mexico. More than 30 years later, the program continues to help local high school students and has expanded throughout Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico.
The United States Department of Education awarded NMSU $5.2 million in federal grants for TRIO Upward Bound programs. NMSU received a five-year grant renewal for $457,674 per year to work with Las Cruces and Gadsden High Schools, which was the target of Brown’s first grant. NMSU also received renewals for a pair of five-year grants for $297,601 each to continue programs at Alamogordo and Hatch Valley High Schools, which began in 2017.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to do this,” said Brown, who retired from NMSU in 2006. “TRIO is a well-structured program that provides real guidance to really help students and it has also helped develop relationships with secondary schools.”
Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program, which includes seven nationwide programs that help low-income and first-generation students attend and graduate from college. The Las Cruces and Gadsden program serves 90 students, while 60 students are supported at both Hatch Valley and Alamogordo each year.
“TRIO Upward Bound not only works with students to self-advocate for success in high school and post-secondary education, but the parenting component is equally important and critical to participants’ success. Parents learn early on how to prepare their children for success in high school and college,” said Tony Marin, assistant vice president for student affairs.
Brown, who began working as a graduate assistant at the center, later led CLA to include five programs that provide academic support for students. She was also very active in the national organization TRIO and often visited government leaders in Washington, DC to educate and emphasize the importance of the programs.
“She was constantly walking the hill and making sure our congressional delegation in New Mexico and across the country really understood the importance of the program,” Marin said. “One thing Sue used to say all the time was ‘once you’re TRIO, you’re always TRIO.’ It is a community, not only local, but a national movement.
Although a large portion of TRIO Upward Bound students attend and graduate from NMSU, it is not a requirement.
With the most recent grant renewal, NMSU’s TRIO Upward Bound program will now provide services to eight high schools with the addition of Chaparral High School. Marin said he is proud to reach rural communities in the region and knows the effects extend to more than academics.
“We try to make sure that we help students not only with the education component, but also with the payment component,” Marin said.
NMSU’s TRIO Upward Bound program serves students in grades nine through 12. To enter the program, students must apply and pass an interview.
For more information about the NMSU Upward Bound program, visit https://trioub.nmsu.edu.
Tiffany Acosta writes for New Mexico State University Marketing and Communications and can be reached at 575-646-3929, or by email at [email protected]