James Jesse, Director of UBMS & EOC, & Co-Founder of ORS
James was a first-generation low-income student from Eastland, TX and earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy at Hardin-Simmons University and started a graduate program in English at Texas Christian University. James has seven years of professional experience in higher education serving in the Student Support Services program. He also has experience as an Adjunct Instructor teaching Transition to College courses at a local community college.
Dustin Phillips, Director of UB Programs, ORS Operations, & Co-Founder
Dustin was a first-generation low-income student from Amarillo, TX and has earned an M.A. in Communications from the University of Texas Arlington and a B.S. in Church Ministry from Southwestern A/G University. He has seventeen years of combined professional experience working with students in educational and travel settings, eight of those years specifically as part of Upward Bound programs. Dustin also has experience as an Adjunct Instructor teaching Speech Communications, and he is a member of the City Council in Benbrook, TX.
Hannah Sutton, Assistant Director EOC
Hannah is from Arlington, Texas, and earned a B.A. in Anthropology from University of Texas at Arlington. She has over seven years of professional experience in nonprofit & higher education settings, including three years of experience working in college admissions. Both of her parents were first-generation, non-traditional college students, returning to school as adults. Hannah comes from a family of educators and now resides in Cleburne with her husband and son.
Norma Marquez, Program Coordinator - UB
Norma was a first generation low-income student from Dublin, Texas. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish at the University of North Texas in 2017. Norma has been a member of TRiO programs for the past 8 years. She also has 4 years of experience working for TRiO programs, having served as a tutor and residential assistant for UNT Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science, front-desk student assistant at UNT’s TRiO office, and supervisor for one of Talent Search’s yearly STEM camps. During her free time Norma enjoys running, playing volleyball, and spending as much time as she can with her family.
Daniel De La Pena, Program Coordinator - UBMS
Daniel is a first generation, low-income student from Burleson, TX. He has earned an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts at Hill College, has his B.S. in Psychology/Counseling at Tarleton State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Kinesiology. Daniel has three years of experience with Upward Bound Math & Science as an academic tutor, and two years of experience in higher education as a Resident Life Coordinator at Hill College. He is the son of migrant workers who value education and have had numerous jobs to help him pursue his education.
Robin Taylor, Program Coordinator - UB
Robin Taylor is a first generation, low-income Native American student from Claremore, Oklahoma. She has a Bachelor's Degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Bible and Theology with minors in Biblical Languages and Philosophy and Religion. She has 4 years of experience working with Upward Bound. Her favorite hobbies include cross stitching, hiking, and daydreaming of the day she can own her own puppy.
Alyssa Cantu, Program Coordinator - UBMS
Alyssa is a first generation low-income student from San Antonio, Texas. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology at Texas Tech University in 2017. Alyssa is a previous member of TRiO programs having served as a tutor, residential adviser, and academic coach for Upward Bound at TTU. During her free time Alyssa enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Kristen Miller, Student Development Coordinator- UB
Kristen is a first-generation, low-income student from Joshua, Texas. She earned her B.S. in Pre-Professional Counseling with Minors in Psychology and Children/Family Ministries from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. She has 8 years of experience working in Youth Ministries and 3 years of experience volunteering and working in the Social Work field. She enjoys volunteering, rock climbing, and spending time with her family.
Erin Dugan, Office Manager
Erin is from Buda, TX and earned a B.B.A. in Marketing from University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She has over ten years of professional experience in finance, including eight years in higher education & public school settings. Erin currently lives in Itasca with her husband and two kids.
Maria Guillen, Student Development Coordinator- UBMS
Maria Gabriela Guillen Ramirez is a first-generation, low-income student from Apaseo El Alto Guanajuato, Mexico. She earned a B.S. in Agricultural Management with a Double Minor in Spanish and Business from Tarleton State University. She is a former ORS Upward Bound participant. She rejoined the Upward Bound family as a tutor, and now proudly serves as a Student Development Coordinator. She is passionate about bringing the same opportunities to those students with a similar background, so they can accomplish their educational goals.
Ikisha Cross, EOC College Access Advisor
Ikisha is a native of Washington, D.C., understands the value of education. Having been raised in a single parent home, she watched her mother go from being on public assistance with only a high school diploma to earning four degrees, including a doctorate in theology. Ikisha holds degrees in business administration, biblical studies, and theology. She believes that education is the key to unlock doors of unlimited possibilities. Ikisha is now a resident of Cleburne, with her husband and four children.
Robin Mayhew, EOC College Access Advisor
Robin is a graduate from University of Texas at Arlington, with a B.S. in Political Science. She retired from Burleson ISD, after working as the district dyslexia interventionist for 23 years. However, she could not stay out of education for long. Robin returned to tutor students for Upward Bound in 2017, and then transitioned into an advisor role with the Educational Opportunity Center, where her years of teaching and education experience have allowed her to make a positive impact assisting adults in the community as well.
Quien Lister, EOC College Access Advisor
Quien was a first generation, low-income student from Bryan, TX. She obtained a B.S. in Sociology from Texas Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Sociology & Psychology from Kaplan University. She has eight years of professional experience working with students in educational & travel settings, six of those years as part of an Upward Bound program. Quien also has experience as a Behavior Interventionist/Teacher in the public school system.