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USC TRiO students celebrate virtual graduation

The event honored the achievements of 104 Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math-Science graduates, seven of whom will be attending USC.

USC TRIO students graduation
The USC TRiO program provides high school students like these 2021 grads — photo taken pre-COVID — with resources like tutoring, mentoring and application assistance. (Photo/Courtesy of Pablo Escobar)

On June 9, the USC TRiO program celebrated the accomplishments of this year’s graduating students in a vibrant virtual ceremony. The event honored the achievements of 104 Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math-Science TRiO seniors, as well as 400 Educational Talent Search participants.

“One of the highlights of the year is to say congratulations to students who have been so diligent in our program and have demonstrated such accomplishments, resilience and tenacity over the past four years,” said Theda Douglas, associate vice president of government partnerships at USC.

During the pandemic, the program helped students stay the course, having a retention rate of over 90% despite the unprecedented circumstances.

“Today is the culmination of a multiyear journey. A journey that has inspired all of us with your grit, your persistence, your resiliency and your belief in yourself,” said Sam Garrison, senior vice president of university relations. “This year’s cohort is an incredibly resilient group of scholars who persevered through a global pandemic.”

“This year’s cohort is an incredibly resilient group of scholars who persevered through a global pandemic.

Sam Garrison

The nationwide, federally funded program is one of the oldest college access programs and has been a part of the USC community for more than four decades, providing resources such as tutoring, mentoring, academic and financial aid application assistance, and career opportunities in order for students to succeed in high school and create a path to college. The program also offers an annual six-week summer residential program that allows participants to see how life will be on a college campus.

This year, seven students from the TRiO program received acceptance letters to USC. The program also produced a Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship recipient in Anthony Flores from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. He will be attending Columbia University in the fall. The program encourages and assists students in finding ways to fund their higher education costs, including grants and scholarships. Brayam Torres, who will be attending the University of California, Berkeley, received a coveted Jordan Brand Wings Scholarship.

USC TRiO alum and Harvard University graduate Jorge Campos had a message for the graduating class. “It’s true that your senior year might not have been what you would have hoped for, but here you are, Class of 2021,” he said. “Because of the Upward Bound Math-Science [program] and because of this last year, you are compassionate, educated and hungry.

“You are going to change the world.”

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