UB Alumni: Selena Sysourath & Soknary Men

Selena Sysourath and Soknary Men
Selena Sysourath and Soknary Men

2019 Burnsville High School grads heading for Augsburg on Promise Grants

Selena Sysourath, 18, and Soknary Men, 18, are TRIO Upward Bound alumni who graduated from Burnsville High School this June. Selena and Soknary each received a Promise Grant, an award that covers the full cost of their tuition for four years at Augsburg University. Both were UB students at BHS through a federally funded TRIO program at Dakota County Technical College.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend Augsburg on a Promise Grant,” Selena said. “I was a little bit shocked that I received the grant. I was scared about having so much student debt. I was extremely excited when I got the news I had received the grant. Soknary was much calmer.”

“I didn’t show my emotions,” Soknary said. “I told my mom, who was worried about how much college costs. I explained how the grant would cover my tuition for four years. We are very thankful.”

Matt Logan serves as a TRIO Upward Bound advisor at Burnsville High School. Matt enjoys working with first-generation college-bound students with a passion for learning.

“I’m so proud of Selena and Soknary,” he said. “They worked really hard all year and deserve the Promise Grant as it will help facilitate a great college experience for them.”

UB Grad Spotlight: Selena Sysourath

Selena Sysourath

Selena Sysourath

Originally from Warroad, Minnesota, a city of less than 2,000 people on the shore of Lake of the Woods near the Canadian border, Selena Sysourath participated in BrainPower in a Backpack and a job-shadowing program at BHS. She starts at Augsburg in September 2019 and will take advantage of TRIO Student Support Services at the university. She is undecided about her major, but knows she wants a career that involves helping others.

“My long-range academic plan is to be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year college,” Selena said. “My career plan is finding a job where I can feel like I’ve achieved my goal by helping a person in need of my care.”

Selena’s father, May, works in the window manufacturing industry; her mother, Lynn, works for a temp agency. Both are from Laos, a landlocked country in the heart of Southeast Asia. Selena has two sisters, Jennifer, 32, who is engaged and works at The Hartford, and April, 23, who works at Wendy’s.

In her free time, Selena enjoys going out with friends, watching TV shows, exercising, singing, dancing and relaxing. As a freshman at Augsburg, she will be living on campus in Minneapolis.

Selena Sysourath Q & A

Selena Sysourath

Selena Sysourath

What did you like best about Upward Bound?
What I liked most about Upward Bound was the support that I received from the students and my advisers and tutors.

How did Upward Bound prepare you for college?
Upward Bound prepared me for college by giving me information about what college life might look like, what colleges are looking for in a student, and finding the right college for me.

What advice would you give students thinking about enrolling in Upward Bound?
Just sign up. Upward Bound has fun benefits like the senior trip, but you get so much more out of it than that. I learned that I should not worry a lot about the sticker price of colleges because there is financial aid and scholarships. Also, Upward Bound helped me with my personal issues and shaped me into be the person I am today.

Three words that describe you as an Upward Bound graduate:
HARDWORKING. KIND. HONEST.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
There are many people who have influenced my life the most, but if I have to name someone, it would be my older sister, Jennifer.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
In 20 years, I’ll be 38 years old living my best life, which is having a stable job, living in a nice place and traveling.

Selena Sysourath 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Yoga—I want to try hot yoga.
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Laos
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I flew on a plane for the first time on an Upward Bound trip Puerto Rico.
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) I would buy my parents their dream house 2) Pay off loans 3) Split the rest with my family
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: The Rising of the Shield Hero (Japanese cartoon)
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Us (Directed by Jordan Peele)
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: One thing that I want to accomplish in life is finding my purpose.
  8. Your national bird if you could have one: Penguin
  9. Dream occupation: I don’t know what my dream occupation would be, but I know it would have to involve helping someone.
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Jhene Aiko or Donald Glover
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would like to know how to cook better—especially Laotian food.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: No one issue in this world outweighs another. There are many problems facing humankind from global warming to abuse.

About TRIO Upward Bound

Upward Bound is part of the family of Federal TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education. TRIO programs ensure equal educational opportunities for all students by providing skills and information needed to overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.

Upward Bound helps students succeed academically by giving them the tools they need to first graduate from high school before enrolling in and graduating from college. Upward Bound participants have “college potential,” but are often unaware of the academic and career options beyond high school.

Purpose

  • A motivational program based on academics, Upward Bound assists high school students with graduation requirements while preparing them for enrollment in and eventual completion of postsecondary education.
  • Funded by the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored by Dakota County Technical College, Upward Bound serves 50 students in grades 9–12 from Henry Sibley and South St. Paul high schools, and 60 students from Burnsville High School.
  • All qualified students are encouraged to apply.
    • Our policy obliges us to accept students who best conform to the program’s federal guidelines.
    • Applications are available through the Guidance Offices.
    • We will accept students who best conform to the program’s federal income guidelines, first-generation in the family to attend college, and potential for success in a college program of study.

Services

  • Academic tutoring
  • Personal enrichment workshops
  • Stipend (money) during the academic year and summer months based on attendance and academic performance
  • One-on-one mentoring with an academic/career advisor
  • After-school program sessions twice a week
  • Six-week summer program at DCTC with math, science, English, foreign language, computer skills and study skills classes
  • Assistance with college entrance requirements
  • Parent/guardian support and assistance in matters affecting the student’s educational progress
  • Fun cultural, social and career-oriented field trips
  • Access to computer-based career and postsecondary educational information
  • Financial aid and scholarship information and assistance
  • Opportunities to meet many new friends who share the goal of a college education
Learn more…

UB Grad Spotlight: Soknary Men

Soknary Men

Soknary Men

Soknary Men was born in Cambodia, a country of 16 million people in Southeast Asia on the Gulf of Thailand. Soknary moved to the U.S. with her parents in 2010. As a student at Burnsville High School, she took part in extracurricular activities such a Bowls for BrainPower and BrainPower in a Backpack.

Soknary is looking forward to completing courses at Augsburg University that will lead to a career in fashion design. She is also interested in taking classes in business, accounting and photography. Like her friend, Selena, she will belong to TRIO Student Support Services.

“I want to finish four years of college first and then get a good job,” Soknary said. “I really want to become a fashion designer.”

Soknary’s dad, Sokhon, and mom, Minly, taught her speak fluent Khmer, the official language of Cambodia. Soknary has six siblings, Vanny, Sileoun, Navy, Paly, Kenny and Sokvannak.

For pastimes and hobbies, she loves playing sports, including basketball and soccer. She also likes reading—and she spends much of her time freehand-drawing clothing designs. This fall Soknary will live on campus as an Augsburg University freshman.

Soknary Men Q & A

Soknary Men

Soknary Men

What did you like best about Upward Bound?
I liked when we worked together studying for our ACT exams and filling out our FAFSA forms; I also liked when we played games like Monkey Mayhem.

How did Upward Bound prepare you for college?
My advisors took me to visit a number of colleges, including St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I received lots of information about these colleges. My advisors also helped me with my college paperwork.

What advice would you give students thinking about enrolling in Upward Bound?
Upward Bound is a great program that helps you prepare for college and your future.

Three words that describe you as an Upward Bound graduate:
NEVER. GIVE. UP.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
I can’t pick one—my family, friends and my teacher.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I see myself having a house and a good job as a fashion designer.

Soknary Men 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: I like playing badminton, soccer and basketball.
  2. Place you would most like to visit: I would like to visit Cambodia.
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: The most exciting thing I ever did was going to Puerto Rico with Upward Bound.
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) I would buy a house and cars for my parents 2) I would use some for my education or other things 3) If some money was still left, I would give it to my parents
  5. The favorite TV show you’re watching now: I don’t have a favorite TV show, but I like Running Man [South Korean variety show] or The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon or I Am Not a Robot
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: I don’t have any best movie because I think every movie I watch is the best.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I want to graduate from college and get a good job so I can help my family.
  8. Your national bird if you could have one: Phoenix
  9. Dream occupation: International fashion designer—if that career accepts me, I will work really hard and try my best.
  10. The person you would most like to meet: I would like to meet my older siblings and my grandma in Cambodia—she’s 91—because I have not seen them for about nine years; I would like to thank them for everything they have done.
  11. The skill you would most like to learn and master: I would like to master Cambodian and American cooking, as well as fashion design.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: There are so many issues going on in this world such as mass shootings, global warming, etc.
Learn more about TRIO Upward Bound at DCTC by contacting:

Caitlin Siefkes
Director of TRIO/Upward Bound
Dakota County Technical College
651-423-8463

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