Program Staff

Dustin Phillips
Rebekah Kern

Dustin Phillips, Director of Upward Bound Venus, Rio Vista, and Keene

Dustin Phillips 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 twelve years of combined professional experience working with students in educational and travel settings, five of those years specifically as part of an Upward Bound program. Dustin also has experience as an Adjunct Instructor teaching Speech Communications at a local community college and leading large travel groups.

James Jesse, Director of Upward Bound Math & Science

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.

Daniel De La Peña, UBMS Alvarado Program Coordinator

Daniel was a first generation, low-income student from Burleson, TX. He earned an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts at Hill College in 2014. With his recent completion of a B.S. in Psychology/Counseling at Tarleton State University, he is now pursuing a Masters degree in Sports Psychology. Daniel has five years of experience with Upward Bound Math & Science, 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. 

Alyssa Cantu, UBMS Program Coordinator

Alyssa was 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.

 

Robin Taylor, UB Program Coordinator

Robin Taylor was a first generation, low-income Native American student from Claremore, Oklahoma. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and will graduate in December with a major in Bible and Theology and 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.

Norma Marquez, UB Program Coordinator

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, 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.

Kristen Miller, UB Student Development Coordinator

Kristen was 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.