I am saddened by the university’s decision to no longer host the Upward Bound Program. The program has been a part of the university community for over 45 years and has helped thousands of low-income, first generation San Francisco high school students obtain a college degree. I myself have witnessed hundreds of students who have graduated from college and have come back to USF to share their accomplishments and experiences with the staff.
Our staff have spent countless hours assisting students by writing letters of recommendation, tutoring students, and giving them the support and encouragment that they need to pursue a college education.
In fact, a number of our Upward Bound students have chosen to attend USF as undergraduate students. Previous USF administrations have been very receptive and supportive of the Upward Bound Program. Most recently, Rev. Lo Schiavo (past USF President) and Rev. John Clark (past USF Provost) have been very instrumental in keeping the hope alive for the students of our program during the past several years.
It is very rewarding to see the students’ happy faces once they realize that their hard work has indeed paid off. I have been invited to attend the college graduations of a number of my students. They realize that the Upward Bound program has given them the tools they need to achieve their dreams. In many cases, the students were told that they would never get into college, yet they persisted and my staff and I saw in our personal interactions with the students that they simply needed a little extra attention and one-on-one tutoring to achieve their goals.
The mission statement of the university includes a belief and commitment to social responsibility in fulfilling the University’s mission to create, communicate and apply knowledge to a world shared by all people and held in trust for future generations.
The Upward Bound program has been working hard to fulfill this commitment and belief for over 45 years by serving and teaching at-risk high school students and helping them to become useful and productive members of our community.
It saddens me to see that all our work has to end. It is true that the program can transfer to another institution, but it is unlikely that any other college or university in San Francisco will be willing take the program over. In addition, no other institution of higher learning in San Francisco can offer the students the safe, welcoming and nurturing environment that USF provides to our high school students.
The bottom line is that it is imperative that the Upward Bound Program remain at University of San Francisco. It would be an injustice to the USF community if Upward Bound and its students had to leave.
Ernest Chen is the academic coordinartor for USF’s Upward Bound program.