Student Highlights

Upward Bound Alumni Spotlight


Jairo Zavala, Upward Bound Class of 2009 alumnus, recently graduated from Lamar University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Hospitality Administration. He was an active Upward Bound participant and even worked with our Upward Bound program for several years after he graduated. We are appreciative of his contagious laughter and for his caring nature. Congratulations Jairo!  

“Do Work Son” by Christopher “Big Black” Boykin, was the quote I chose my senior year when I was in Upward Bound before graduating high school. This quote has stuck with me in all of my classes even until graduation. College classes are no joke, they are extremely challenging to the point where I would stay up for hours trying to complete all different types of homework, projects, and presentations. I’ve studied with friends in an empty building, the library, homes, and coffee shops to all different hours of the night. I am not going to lie, these experiences were very unique, like how I figured out that I can only study at a local coffee shop and I know how long I can last before I fall asleep. Before I graduated I had to work one year in the food industry and also complete 300 internship hours. I worked at a variety of different places, ranging from hospitals and restaurants to bakeries and parks. One of the locations that I worked at, The White Flamingo Restaurant, was the same place where I had my Upward Bound Job Shadow Program, so the way I see it, I was networking the correct way. I also worked at Walt Disney World, which was a once in a lifetime experience. This is where I had my first real paid job, learned to live on my own with other people, and understood what it is like to be on your own. When my last semester of school was coming to a close, it still hadn’t hit me that I was about to graduate from college. There were so many things that I had to think about like where was I going to work, live, and then thinking about my finances. On the day of graduation, I decided to snap chat my anxiety because it was finally getting real. I walked out with my fellow classmates and thus began the graduation ceremony. One of our fellow graduates who was the guest speaker spoke to everyone asking them to chant LU after he finished his speech. It was finally my moment to walk the stage and I was so nervous, I kind of lost my vision for a little bit. After walking across the stage, I finally graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration. Afterwards I was able to partake in all the graduation traditions such as taking senior pictures, decorating graduation caps and going out to eat afterwards. I am now working full time as a prep cook with Chartwells at the Brooks-Shivers Dining Hall. – Jairo Zavala



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