Program puts high school students on college-bound trajectory

Yifeng Shen

Yifeng Shen ’24

The path to college for each student is unique and for Yifeng Shen ’24 his journey to University of the Pacific was no different.

Shen spent each weekend this past year at Stockton's Edison High School, where he participated in Pacific's Upward Bound Program. Students received instruction, tutoring, advising and assistance with applying for financial aid and college admission to help them graduate and earn their college degrees.

"Yifeng is no ordinary student,” said Rosie Montes, Upward Bound program director. “He came to the United States as a young child without understanding the language or culture. He has overcome so many challenges and has always had the heart and dedication to overcome them.”

Shen moved to the United States from Guangzhou, China, when he was just 12 years old. He did not speak English and it took two years until he was able to speak the language fluently. His family settled in South Stockton and he attended Edison, where he was a Most Valuable Player for the water polo and swimming teams.

He heard about the Upward Bound program from his high school counselor. “I was a little hesitant to join at first,” recalled Shen. “But I am so happy that I got involved and participated in the program.”

Pacific's Upward Bound Program is entering its fourth year working with Edison High School students. Not only does the program provide tutoring, advising and college application prep assistance, but it also takes students on college campus tours, along with visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Habitat for Humanity community service projects.

Currently, Upward Bound has alumni attending Sacramento State University, Stanislaus State University, and San Joaquin Delta College. However, Shen is the first graduate of the program attending Pacific. He chose the university because he liked having the opportunity to stay close to home, attend small classes, be part of a diverse population and also because he received a CIP scholarship.

The Community Involvement Program (CIP) is a comprehensive need-based scholarship and retention program for first-generation college students from the Stockton community who have demonstrated the potential for sustainable leadership, community awareness, and involvement.

“Yifeng’s commitment and hard work gave him the opportunity to become a CIP Scholarship recipient,” said Montes.

In addition, to participating in the CIP  this fall, Shen will work as an intern for Upward Bound and tutor students at Edison in the program.

“I’m excited to work with Edison students and share my experience with them,” said Shen. “I received so much support in the program to help get me to where I am and I want to help others on their journey to college.”