TRIO Upward Bound at the University of Southern Maine has announced that Doris Juarez is the recipient of the New England Educational Opportunity Association (NEOA) Rising Star Award. Juarez, an Upward Bound alumna from Deering High School in Portland, Maine, was recognized at the New England Educational Opportunity Association’s Annual Conference on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
The NEOA Rising Star Award honors emerging leaders who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen fields, devote time and energy to their communities in meaningful ways, and serve as role models for other economically disadvantaged, first-generation college-bound students.
Juarez graduated with honors from Smith College in 2017 with a degree in Biology and worked as a research assistant at Duke University, where her work was published. She joined the Upward Bound at USM team in 2019 as a STEM Advisor, planning a state-wide STEM conference and co-chairing TRIO Days 2021. Over the past two years, Juarez joined the Professional Staff Senate and the Intercultural and Diversity Advisory Committee at USM. She was a keynote speaker at the Bowdoin Upward Bound College Fair and a panelist at the MEEOA plenary session, where she spoke to Commissioner Makin about her experiences. She became a representative for Portland ConnectEd and joined a task force focused on supporting the local LatinX population. Juarez was also recently awarded the 2021 MEEOA Rising Star Award through the Maine Educational Opportunity Association.
“As an Upward Bound student, all I wanted was to be seen, for someone to cheer me on, not because my family did not support me, but because UB understood me," said Juarez, who is a first-generation American and college graduate. "My advisors went out of their way for me, never telling me that I was not capable of changing my life. It is the power of the belief that I could do it that kept me moving forward.”
NEOA is an association of professionals working within educational opportunity programs, primarily TRIO and Gear Up programs. TRIO programs were initially established in 1965 through the Higher Education Act to help low-income & first-generation college-bound students enter and find success in higher education and to participate more fully in America’s economic and social life.