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Lupita Reyes

Upward Bound alum honored

Lupita Reyes is the first YVC student to receive a prestigious scholarship for overcoming barriers

This fall, first-generation student Lupita Reyes of Toppenish became the first Yakima Valley College student to receive the FON Scholarship Achievement Award from the Northwest Association Educational Opportunity Programs.

The competitive annual scholarship is only awarded to nine students participating in federally-funded TRIO programs at colleges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The scholarship honors students who overcame barriers to achieve outstanding academic success.

YVC’s TRIO Upward Bound program serves students who attend Sunnyside, Granger, Wapato and Toppenish high schools in grades 9 – 12. Each year, YVC’s program supports more than 100 students like Reyes — who earned credits toward her college degree while also graduating from Toppenish High School earlier this year — in better understanding and preparing for success in the college environment.

Reyes entered YVC’s UB program in 2017. Through this program she was able to participate in a 6-week summer residential experience — which enables students to take core classes and earn additional high school credit and sometimes college credits while living in YVC dorms to get a feel for what college will be like— each of her four years.

A first-generation college student, Reyes said YVC’s UB program expanded her knowledge of college and helped her find success in the application process.

“Upward Bound taught me about college, but also how to make decisions about my future,” she said. “Through the program I was encouraged to follow my dreams and not let others’ opinions deter me from my goals. UB provided me resources like advising, tutoring and the summer program where I got to experience college life while also creating meaningful friendships with my peers. I also received immense support from the Upward Bound staff with the scholarship and college application processes during my senior year.”

Reyes is using the $1,500 FON Scholarship at the University of Washington, where she started taking classes this fall. Reyes has yet to decide on a major, but her interests include art and architectural design.

“This quarter has been going smoothly and my professors all are very engaging and interactive in class, which has been an amazing experience for me,” Reyes said. “One of the biggest things that Upward Bound has prepared me for is participation in discussions. Whenever discussion groups are formed, I always try to add my thoughts, and even when I have questions, I ask my peers for their feedback.

“Even when I feel nervous, I try to engage with others who might also feel nervous because it helps the whole group feel at ease.”

In addition to the residential program, UB exposes students to a wide range of cultural, career and college activities throughout the year at YVC. These activities focus on setting up students to be prepared for what senior year has in store with the demanding college process.

Reyes and other 2021 scholarship recipients were honored at the TRIO Achievers Luncheon held during the NAEOP regional conference in Bellevue, Wash., this October.