Community Interview: Upward Bound Takes Students Step-By-Step Through the College Process

Skaters4Justice interview Vrisa Dominguez
Skaters4Justice interview Vrisa Dominguez


WELA YMCA Youth Institute, is part of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative funded by The California Endowment.Youth are exploring and investigating how the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) can empower and improve their local school communities.

We want to have more high school counselors in our school so we can get the proper one-on-one support we need to get into a four year university.

The person we interviewed was Vrisa Dominguez. We asked her for an interview because she counsels local students through the college preparation and application process. She shared information about her involvement in Upward Bound and in the local high schools.

This is connected to our community cause because Ms. Dominguez is making a difference by helping students reach their academics goals.

Skaters4Justice: What is your name and your background history?

Vrisa: My name is Vrisa Dominguez and I'm the program director of Upward Bound Boyle Heights. Upward bound is a federally funded program working with students who are low income and first generation, preparing them for college. I received my undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz and my graduate degree at Cal State Long Beach.

Skaters4Justice: What type of work do you do?

Vrisa: I am the director at an Upward Bound program and so I help students prepare for college. Volunteers of America, the organization I work with, has seven Upward Bound programs. I primarily work with the Boyle Heights community; however we do have programs in North Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, and South Los Angeles. I work with all of these students during the summer and at times we go on field trips together. We also work in collaboration with Westminster Upward Bound students during the summer program.

Skaters4Justice: Is there parent involvement in your program?

Vrisa: Yes, it is a requirement to have parent meetings. We have parent meetings every other month and we also have individual parent meetings to talk about the students. Our primary target school is Roosevelt High School. This is the school we primarily work with; however if a student is currently at Roosevelt but switches to a different school, we will most likely keep them in the program so we may have students from different schools like Lincoln or Garfield High School.

Skaters4Justice: What is the difference between Upward Bound counseling and Roosevelt's counseling?

Vrisa: The difference is that we provide more one-on-one academic advisement. The high school counseling office here at Roosevelt has many more students than we have. The Roosevelt office may have 200-300 students for every counselor, while one Upward Bound counselor has a total of 64 students and we have about 3-5 staff that work with all of these students.

We are able to walk the students through the whole college application process. We not only follow them, we check in with their parents too. We review the students' grades and make sure they are taking the correct classes for graduation and college. Upward Bound also offers tutoring services, a Saturday academy, a summer program and college field trips.

We invest a lot of time and effort in our students and we ask them for a four year commitment. Once they graduate from high school we follow and support them through college. Our ultimate goal is for our students to graduate from a four year university.

So the main difference from Upward Bound counseling and the Roosevelt counseling is not only the resources we offer them, but also the one-on-one services that the students receive. It's extremely different that what they would receive through their school's counseling. We follow up with them if they're not doing well in a class, we confirm the courses they need to take the next academic year, and we also help them create a list of colleges they plan of attending. It's a step-by-step through the whole college process.

Skaters4Justice, Francisco and Ricardo, work on their interview with Vrisa Dominguez
Skaters4Justice, Francisco and Ricardo, work on their interview with Vrisa Dominguez

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