Veterans with aspirations to pursue higher education will have access to new resources and support through the Veterans Upward Bound Program at UC Merced.
This year, the university was selected as one of the recipients of the Department of Education (DOE) grant, which helps to provide first-generation and low-income veterans with assistance from the application process through commencement. The DOE website states, "the program's primary goal is to increase the rate at which participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs."
Orquidea Largo, interim associate vice chancellor of the Center for Educational Partnerships, said the grant will provide an opportunity to serve adult learners in Stanislaus, Merced and Fresno counties who have served the country and are ready to return to school.
"Most of our veterans, because they are adults, have families and family obligations that might hinder their abilities to return to school full-time," she said. "We saw that as the primary variable in their lack of postsecondary pursuits."
Recruitment is now underway for applicants to the Veterans Upward Bound Program. Those accepted will have access to tutors to help navigate academic barriers, a director and a coordinator to guide veterans through the process of accessing resources, as well as supporting their academic progress and achievement.
"A good majority of first-generation young adults will go to community college, the workforce, or they will go into the military to access higher education. However, in our experience working with students, we have found that first-generation students often experience the mindset of imposter syndrome," said Amelia Herrera Bomhoff, director of K-12 federal programs at the UC Merced Center for Educational Partnerships.
Bomhoff is the spouse of a veteran and has seen how difficult it can be to navigate the GI Bill. She says the Veterans Upward Bound Program will ensure veterans can integrate their military experience, including college courses completed in another state or city, into their education at UC Merced or a college of choice.
"When you transition from a military mindset into a civilian mindset, it comes with an array of emotions and challenges," said Bomhoff. "This program aims to facilitate the transition of military personnel to civilian life, by providing a one-stop-shop for all services related to higher education pursuits."