In this series, we will spotlight Upward Bound students, staff, and partners as we celebrate 50 years of the program at Appalachian State University. These conversations are meant to illustrate the legacy of the program on some of the many western North Carolinians impacted by Upward Bound. This is the fifth post in our series. To read more about the golden anniversary of Upward Bound, visit our website.
As we have celebrated the 50th anniversary of Upward Bound at Appalachian State University this year, we have highlighted the importance and impact of the program. The posts shared during this year have included candid conversations with people directly involved with Upward Bound and how the program impacted them personally.
Our next conversation is with an Upward Bound alumnus, Yannia Nordelo. Yannia is a perfect example of how the relationships fostered by Upward Bound continue to impact students long past graduation from high school.
Describe your experiences with Upward Bound.
My experiences with Upward Bound have been nothing but the best. The UB staff has always made me feel comfortable and welcomed both as a student and an employee. Upward Bound was my first interview, my first time being away from home, my first time being on campus at a university, my first time being an RA, the list goes on and on. I’m able to look back at my high school and college career and feel like I’ve always been supported. The staff continuously encourages me to grow as a person by giving me opportunities to step out of my comfort zone. Both the program and staff feel like a safe space where I can be myself, and I know many people can say the same.
What years or how long were you affiliated with the program?
I first entered the program at 14 years old and continued to be in the program throughout all of high school. Since my freshman year of college at Appalachian State University, I've been Upward Bound’s office assistant, document translator, and most recently RA. So, I've been a part of the program for six years and counting.
What are some memories you have of the program? What stories do you remember?
I think I could write a book with all of the amazing memories I’ve had while being a part of Upward Bound, but one memory that will always have a special place in my heart was when I came back from my senior trip to New York. I had a blast the whole trip and it hadn’t really occurred to me that it marked the end of my time of being a student in the program. Once we had all gotten out of the bus we had a group picture and hug, and it amazed me how much Upward Bound had impacted all our lives. I stood there looking at all my friends who I had the opportunity to see grow and flourish, we all had different plans for the future, some were going to university, some community college, some were even going to military academies, but one thing was for certain, we would always be UB students. We all said our goodbyes and shed some tears, but I will always remember the bittersweet moment with a smile on my face.
What is the impact of Upward Bound on you or the students you serve(d)?
Upward Bound has always had a positive impact. When I was a student in the program, it allowed me to learn more about myself and the world around me. I was able to grow and experience things I would have never been able to, which led me to see the world from a different perspective. As an RA and office assistant, I’m able to see a lot of the “behind the scenes,” of UB. The whole staff takes such care in making sure every event, mailing, social media post, ect. is meaningful for students. They want all students to succeed, and it’s always very apparent. During RA training, we focus on being there for students when they need it, supporting them through difficult times, and applauding their moments of success. I truly believe that the UB staff wants nothing but the best for their students, and I’m honored to be part of this program as a former student and current employee.
What do you perceive the legacy of Upward Bound to be?
I perceive the legacy of Upward Bound to be as it currently is, great! All the people I’ve met who have been part of the program or know what it’s about always have wonderful things to say. Upward Bound has helped so many people throughout the years, including myself, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so. I believe that Upward Bound is a one of a kind program that fosters friendships, knowledge, and most important of all, personal growth. All the staff is amazing and caring, and all of this combined is what I think will allow Upward Bound to lead a positive legacy in the future.
Upward Bound was established as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 signed into law by President Johnson. It became one of the nation’s first college access programs, and over the past 57 years, over 2 million students have participated in Upward Bound nationally. The Upward Bound Program at Appalachian State was established in 1972 and is designed to encourage 9th through 12th grade students in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Freedom, McDowell, Watauga, and West Wilkes high schools to complete high school and enroll in, persist, and complete a program of postsecondary education. Eligible students are economically disadvantaged or first in their families to attend college. The Appalachian State Upward Bound Program has served thousands of students since its inception.
Yannia is a senior at Appalachian studying Electronic Media/Broadcasting