College earns grants that encourage students to pursue secondary education

12.19.2014 | By Rob Vanya

San Jacinto College robotic technology instructor J. Keith Cummings (center) collaborated with high school students Devonte Snowden and Jonathan Lopez (left to right) during a robotics demonstration at the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) summer session, held at the San Jacinto College. The College will continue Upward Bound programs, thanks to U.S. Department of Education grants. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.


San Jacinto College recently received approval for grants to continue funding of the Upward Bound, and the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) programs, both of which encourage young people to pursue post secondary education.

The Upward Bound grant is funded 100 percent by the U.S. Department of Education. The $307,821 of incremental funding will provide one year of support for the five-year program, which provides low-income and first-generation high school students a preview of college life. The grant, championed by United States Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), funds a staff of advisors, instructors, and tutors to operate summer sessions, academic year sessions, Saturday sessions, university campus visits, a reading and science development program, as well as a number of educational field trips. Upward Bound students from Channelview and Galena Park High Schools enter the program the summer before becoming ninth-graders.

The UBMS grant is also funded 100 percent by the U.S. Department of Education, and provides incremental funding of $262,499 for one year of the five-year program, which is a collaboration between San Jacinto College and high schools in the Channelview, Sheldon, and Galena Park independent school districts. In the program, selected students from public schools are monitored through high school years, beginning in the ninth grade. Workshops at the College help the high school students with study skills, test taking, dealing with procrastination and similar issues. A San Jacinto College student advisor also works closely with the students and their parents to ensure the students are meeting the program’s high academic and discipline standards through their high school years. The program also features math and science educational field trips.

San Jacinto College graduate Marissa Villarreal says Upward Bound Math and Science gave her a new lease on life. “I could go on and on about how UBMS mentors showed me opportunities I didn’t know I had, how they encouraged and helped me keep my grades up and join after school actives and volunteer programs, and so much more,” she commented. “If I had not joined the program I would be a completely different person, with no motivation to go to college.”

Villarreal joined UBMS in the ninth grade at age 14 and is the first person in her family to attend college. Upward Bound Math and Science mentors helped her to apply herself academically and helped her to find direction. After earning an associate degree from San Jacinto College, she transferred to the University of Houston, where she is working toward a master’s degree in sociology en route to becoming a sociology teacher. She also serves as an UBMS tutor at San Jacinto College.

Upward Bound Math and Science students can attend any college, but Villarreal chose to attend San Jacinto College for many reasons. “It’s close to home, to my family, to people who encourage me to keep going with my college career,” she commented. “The college is very affordable and offers many opportunities that larger colleges do not – smaller class sizes, and more one-on-one time with professors. I was well prepared for a university, where I am continuing to succeed.”

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.