Michael Santos


Upward Bound

South LA/Southwest

Michael Santos is the Director of the Southwest and South Los Angeles Upward Bound programs at the University of Southern California. He was born and raised in South Los Angeles, and is a proud graduate of Crenshaw High School- one of our target schools.


Following his high school graduation and emancipation from the foster care system, Santos attended Santa Monica College (SMC) to pursue a higher education. He then transferred to the University of California Santa Cruz where he earned a BA in Politics. His passion for social change through education led him to and through his career path. His career began in the UC Santa Cruz office of admissions. He worked there until he found an opportunity at the University of Southern California as an advisor in their Educational Talent Search program.


Through his passion and dedication, Santos progressed from the position of an advisor to the position of Assistant Director. Now, he serves as the Director of Upward Bound, where he implements and oversees strategies to help students overcome social and economic barriers on their path to higher education. 

Maria Garcia


Upward Bound


Dr. Maria Garcia is the Director for the Southeast and Central Upward Bound Programs. She has always had a passion for education and wants to help improve the learning opportunities and outcomes of low-income, first-generation, high school students. She is a proud alum of USC’s Upward Bound Program and attended Los Angeles High School. Upon high school graduation, she moved to the East Coast to attend Wellesley College. While there, she studied Italian and Language Studies with and a particular emphasis on the early language acquisition in bilingual children. She also had the opportunity to live in Italy for a year and attend the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy. After graduation, she continued her studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education where she focused on Administration, Planning, and Social Policy. At Harvard, she obtained a solid grounding in issues of urban segregation, administrative policy, and educational justices. Upon graduation, she returned to Los Angeles where she began working for USC’s Educational Opportunity Program Centers, now USC TRIO Programs. While at TRIO, Maria obtained a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. Maria has worked for USC TRIO for almost 20 years in many capacities. She has been a tutor, a teacher, an Advisor, an Assistant Director, and finally the Program Director. In her spare time, Maria loves to read, travel, and spend time with her family.

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