UWGB’s Upward Bound looking to boost enrollment for summer program

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - After widespread cancellations last year due to the pandemic, Wisconsin’s public universities are reintroducing pre-college and youth summer programs this year.

At the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, that means the return of a six-week residential program designed for low-income, first-generation college students.

Enrollment has been slow for the normally popular Upward Bound program.

A 2019 U.W.-Milwaukee graduate, Vicky Villarreal attended U.W.-Green Bay’s Upward Bound program during all four years of high school. She calls it a life changer.

“I did the entire program, and I was given so many opportunities to just learn about what was out there for me and not just in terms of what college is but what programs, what opportunities I could take part in during college,” said Villarreal.

“We bring kids here to campus to study in classrooms here, experience college life. For a low-income, first-generation student, it may be the first time they’ve ever really stepped foot and spent any time on a college campus, which really helps change the mindset,” Michael Casbourne said.

Casbourne, as director of TRIO & Pre-college, heads the federally-funded program at UWGB, which is free to the students.

He says normally the program would be full right now with 90 students registered.

But because the pandemic has prevented him from visiting Green Bay high schools to recruit student until this week, there are still at least 30 openings.

“The interest is still there, just they don’t know about us,” Casbourne said.

Villarreal, who now works in the university’s admissions office, hopes the word spreads about an opportunity she says gave her a great head start.

“It really makes you feel like, I did it, I already have experience with it. I know what it’s like to live in a college dorm. I know what it’s like to have to clean my own bathroom and be up to standards and not have anything in my room I’m not supposed to. But then also having that responsibility of have to show up to class on time,” Villarreal said. “So having that opportunity to do it in an environment where you know you have a safety net is such a great thing to have.”

Read about the Upward Bound program and learn how to apply at

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