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Tricia Wagar, a Mount Baker High School graduate last June, is headed on to college. (Courtesy photo)

Program helps those whose families have not attended college before

BELLINGHAM — A Whatcom Community College TRIO Upward Bound high school student has been awarded a regional scholarship from the Northwest Association of Educational Opportunity Programs.

TRIO Upward Bound is a U.S. Department of Education program that helps high school students who are potentially the first in their family to attend college prepare for and achieve college success.

Tricia Wagar, a 2020 graduate of Mount Baker High School, received a $1,000 Pearl M. Hill Memorial Scholarship for her outstanding leadership, civic engagement and commitment to higher education. The scholarship is named for the founding president of NAEOP, who was an Upward Bound student in Portland, Oregon, and eventually helped hundreds of first-generation and low-income youth gain access to a college education through her work.

“We have amazing Upward Bound students at Whatcom Community College,” said Darlene Snider, TRIO Upward Bound project director. “It’s wonderful to see them acknowledged and rewarded for their fearless pursuit of their dreams.”

Tricia plans to pursue a nursing career and hopes to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is a self-described “social butterfly” and active in high school sports, community service, an anti-bullying club, honor society and FFA, and she works for a health and rehabilitation center.

“I want to be a nurse because I can help,” she said. “I want to be a nurse to give back to others who I dearly respect and have taught me many lessons. I want to be a nurse because it runs in my veins. I am eager and passionate about this dream.”

WCC’s TRIO Upward Bound program serves about 60 students each year from Ferndale, Windward, Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley high schools by providing scholarship resources and mentoring for students. The program features a partnership with Futures Northwest, an organization dedicated to making college and training programs accessible for all.

To be eligible to apply for the program, students must be enrolled at one of the participating high schools, be eligible for their school’s free or reduced-price lunch program, and/or be a first-generation college student (neither parent has a bachelor’s degree). For more information on how to participate, visit www.whatcom.edu/upwardbound.