Upward Bound group helps in tornado recovery effort

J.D. Mota is shown at right (baseball cap) with Upward Bound students and staff members about to take part in low ropes training at Oklahoma University.

J.D. Mota is shown at right (baseball cap) with Upward Bound students and staff members about to take part in low ropes training at Oklahoma University.

North Campus Upward Bound students and staff members did something out of the ordinary to culminate their recent summer session. The group typically visits a university campus at the end of the six-week session. This year, they pitched in to help out in a worthy cause – traveling to central Oklahoma to take part in ongoing recovery efforts from the devastating tornadoes that struck the area in May.

Twenty-eight Upward Bound students and six San Jacinto College staff members helped to clear debris from a wheat field, packaged over 16,000 pounds of frozen vegetables, helped to weather-seal a house, helped finish a new playground, and helped to frame a new Habitat for Humanity house.

“With more scrutiny being placed on federally funded programs and what they do to benefit participants, it’s time to raise the bar and demonstrate that program participants will not only be strong contributors in the future, but will also step up to assist when needed,” commented J.D. Mota, executive director of the San Jacinto College TRiO-Upward Bound grant.

After the service projects, the Upward Bound group visited the University of Oklahoma, where they took part in low ropes training, visited the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, the National Cowboy Museum, as well as the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, built on the site of the Murrah Federal Building bombing.

The Upward Bound program provides low-income and first-generation high school students a preview of college life. A staff of San Jacinto College advisors, instructors, and tutors operate summer sessions, academic year sessions, Saturday sessions, university campus visits, a reading and science development program, as well as educational field trips. Qualifying students from Channelview and Galena Park high schools enter the program the summer before becoming ninth-graders, and continue to participate until high school graduation.

San Jacinto College students and employees who made the Oklahoma trip with the Upward Bound students include Mota, Orlando Calderon, Jeremy Penny, Olga Nava, Paula Oliver, and JoAnn Moreno (a San Jacinto College 2012 graduate).