In June of 2023, USC TRiO Upward Bound celebrated the graduation of x high school students.
From left to right: Tom Sayles, Senior Vice President of University Relations; Jorge Campos, Manual Arts High School; Theda Douglas, Associate Vice President of Government Partnerships and Programs and Jonathan Franklin, Community Relations and External Affairs for the Los Angeles Rams. (Photo/Sergio Gascon)
Jorge Campos defied the odds when he was admitted to Harvard University in 2017 with a full ride scholarship as a formerly-homeless, first-generation college student.
Jorge’s remarkable journey began the summer before high school. He had just graduated from middle school. It would only be a few months until August would roll around and he would enroll as a high schooler at Manual Arts. But the anticipation of this new journey was the last thing on his mind. His father had just lost his job. They had no back up savings. It wouldn’t be long before the family of six became homeless.
Indeed, for the next three months, they stayed in vans, hotels, and moved between relatives’ homes.
Despite being only a teen, Jorge decided he must do something to to save his family. He refused to succumb to the endless cycle of poverty his family had long been entrenched in. Recognizing the transformative power of education, he decided to take advantage of college-level courses offered by LACC to learn about finance. He eventually applied the skills these courses taught him to his own family’s finances. Through Jorge’s very efficient budgeting and accounting, their family was soon able to purchase their very own home within two years.
Jorge’s admirable and relentless work ethic gained him admission to Harvard University with a full ride scholarship. Today, he serves as an inspirational role model for other first generation, low income students of color.
He attributes his achievements to the support and opportunities provided by USC. His story serves as a testament to the transformative power of programs like USC Upward Bound in empowering low-income, first-generation students and enabling them to reach their full potential in higher education. In June of 2021– now a Harvard graduate- Campos returned as a guest speaker to motivate the graduating class. He told them that because of Upward Bound, they are now “compassionate, educated, and hungry” and that they will undoubtedly “change the world.”