Upward Bound welcomes new director, receives grant renewals
AMANDA Atencio’s passion for education and serving students throughout her professional career began when she was a student at Adams State University. Atencio returns to the campus as director of Upward Bound/Upward Bound Math & Science programs at Adams State.
“My experiences as an undergrad and graduate student and working within the TRiO programs (Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, and Student Support Services) shaped my love for students and supporting them. The people, el gente, in the Valley are the primary reason I returned, back to my roots,” she said.
Atencio, a 2005 graduate, replaces Angelica Valdez in the position. The Adams State Upward Bound program is in its 50th year.
“I plan to continue providing quality services and opportunities for students in the program,” Atencio said. “We are the heart of pre-collegiate services for students in the SLV. My staff and I will continue the strong rapport with schools and communities throughout the SLV.”
The U.S. Department of Education most recently renewed the Upward Bound Math and Science grant as well as renewing the Upward Bound grant for another five years, beginning in 2023, which makes an excellent launch for Atencio’s leadership role.
“We received a perfect score on the Upward Bound grant,” Atencio added. She said she is grateful to Valdez and Tawney Becker, Adams State grant specialist, and the entire Upward Bound staff that “poured their hearts and souls into the grant proposal.”
There are nine high schools participating in the grant: Alamosa, Antonito, Centauri, Centennial, Center, Del Norte, Monte Vista, Sangre de Cristo, and Sierra Grande.
In the future, Atencio would like to expand community and outreach for students’ health and well-being. “We can’t get to the core of academic needs or grow if a student is not emotionally, mentally or physically healthy.”
Atencio received certification in elementary education from the University of Colorado Denver in 2017 and a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts, in 2013 and 2005, respectively, from Adams State University. She worked for six years as an elementary teacher in Pueblo prior to accepting the position as director of the Adams State Upward Bound programs. She served as the TRiO Upward Bound director for Colorado State University-Pueblo and started her professional career at Adams State in 2005 with the Student Support Services/Talent Search and as a TRiO, Upward Bound counselor and academic skills coordinator.
“It is the relationships with people throughout my career that built my foundation at Adams State and my love for education,” Atencio added. “I have learned, iron sharpens iron and I have not gotten here alone. There have been so many mentors, coworkers, and professors who have helped me develop into the professional I am today. The experiences I had as an undergraduate, graduate and employee with Adams State TRiO programs and teaching, molded my love for students and I am excited to begin the next chapter of my story with Adams State and lead the Upward Bound program into the next 50 years.”
PHOTO: Upward Bound summer program students take classes, engage in group activities as they experience the college campus environment. Inset: Amanda Atencio, new director of the program.