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 Local High School Students in the Colorado Mesa University TRIO Upward Bound Program Receive Rare Opportunity to Head to Nation’s Capital

Central High School Junior Angelina Alejandre and Grand Junction High School Sophomore Terrence Liu head to Washington D.C. in June for the National Student Leadership Congress program

Colorado Mesa University and Mesa County Valley School District 51 celebrate the incredible achievements of Angelina Alejandre, a junior at Central High School, and Terrence Liu, a sophomore at Grand Junction High School, for being selected to participate in the National Student Leadership Congress (NSLC) in Washington, D.C. Alejandre and Liu, both first-generation students in the CMU TRIO Upward Bound program, are two of only 170 students across the nation to be chosen for this prestigious opportunity.

The National Student Leadership Congress is a 6-day program hosted in our nation’s capital on the campus of American University. Students participate in a Mock Congress where they debate and explore solutions for the most pressing issues facing our society. Additionally, students meet one-on-one with senators and representatives on Capitol Hill to share their stories as soon-to-be first-generation college students.

“I believe in the power I and other first-generation students hold. As a first-generation student I have experienced first-hand the struggle of not being able to see further than high school and I want to inspire other students who share a similar journey like me,” said TRIO Upward Bound and CHS Student Angelina Alejandre.

Alejandre is a passionate advocate for issues affecting our country and wants her generation to become the resilient, confident adults the nation needs.

For Liu, his dream is to become an attorney who works to improve the immigration process for individuals coming to the United States. He hopes to work alongside other first-generation students at NSLC to find solutions to problems like the rise in poverty among young people, the increasing cost of college and reforming the path to citizenship.

“Angelina is a motivated student and dedicated Upward Bound member. Since joining Upward Bound last year, Angelina has gone above and beyond to reach her future goal of becoming an attorney,” said TRIO Upward Bound Director Shelby Burroughs Pryzgoda. "Terrence is an incredible student who wants to dedicate his career to helping others. He makes the most of every opportunity and I know this experience will help him grow even more as a leader, student and person," said Burroughs Pryzgoda.

Upward Bound works with first-generation, income-eligible students at Central and Grand Junction High School. The program helps students with their high school academics, advises them on high school and college course selection, and exposes them to college experiences through college tours and a six-week summer academy at Colorado Mesa University. 

"In District 51, we believe in the power of partnerships to help change the lives of our students. Colorado Mesa University continues to be a strong partner with D51, and the Upward Bound program is just another example of how these partnerships can positively impact students in our community. We are so proud of Angelina and Terrence, and this opportunity will give them a seat at the table on Capitol Hill to gain real-world experience that will greatly impact their futures in a way that cannot be experienced just by studying a textbook," said D51 Superintendent Brian Hill.

The National Student Leadership Congress will take place this June in Washington D.C., offering Alejandre and Liu an opportunity to contribute to meaningful discourse.

“The National Student Leadership Congress will give me a platform to speak on issues I am passionate about such as higher education, homelessness and injustice,” said Alejandre.

"As a first-generation student, I have never been to Washington D.C., and I probably won’t get the opportunity to go before I start my career," said Liu.

Local students interested in joining Upward Bound at CHS or GJHS should contact the Upward Bound counselor at their respective high school.


Written by Staff