In solemn silence before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, two College of the Mainland Upward Bound students Maria Camargo from Dickinson High School and Tavien Hearne from Hitchcock High School laid a wreath honoring those who gave their lives.

It marked the pinnacle of a trip to Washington D.C. for 19 students in the COM Upward Bound Program, which assists low-income, disabled high school students or those who will be the first in their families to go to college. Upward Bound students who excelled throughout the year earned their spots on the trip, which included exploring Capitol Hill, touring the National Air and Space Museum and walking the halls of Mount Vernon..

“I’ve never traveled outside of Texas. I enjoyed the Lincoln Memorial and being able to look down the water,” said student Kobie Vinson, from Hitchcock High School. “We toured the Smithsonian and Arlington National Cemetery. My favorite part was learning how much land George Washington owned.”

Upward Bound encourages high school students to attend the college they select, and students toured Howard University and George Washington University.

“I want to major in computer engineering,” said student Daniel Anders, from La Marque High School. “At Howard University the computer labs were better than most colleges I’ve seen so far. Their labs were state-of-the-art.”

The trip included lessons in how the government works.

“A private tour guide took us through D.C. We went to the Supreme Court and talked about upcoming cases,” said Ciro Reyes, COM director of Upward Bound and Student Support Services.

Upward Bound assists students year-round through tutoring, academic advising, workshops, a laptop-lending program, and college and university tours. In the summer, students can join a six-week college experience to prepare them for the new school year.

“The program wants students to be well-rounded,” explained Reyes. “It helps students go on educational and cultural trips. We want to make sure students are successful in high school, college and in their careers.”

Upward Bound and its sister program, Student Support Services, for low-income, disabled and first-generation college students, began at COM in 2001.

For more information on Upward Bound programs, visit or call 409-933-8273.