Cougs Rise connects students to resources

Program operates in two-track system this summer; financial aid application found online for costs


Cougs Rise Project Coordinators Araseli Solorio, left, and Cesar Munguia highlight the changes to their summer program to better assist current and graduating high school students.

Looking back, Araseli Solorio said she would have appreciated having courses that inform students about different types of loans during her days as a college student.

“There was no resources at the time,” Solorio, Cougs Rise project coordinator, said.

Preparing and involving parents in their student’s transition from high school to college, she said, is one of the ways Cougs Rise tries to help those who are considering college.

Cesar Munguia, Cougs Rise project coordinator, said Cougs Rise is an all-year program that works with first-generation and low-income high school students to help them transition from high school to college.

The program will operate in a two-track system this summer, Munguia said, which is called the Cougar Tracks and Bridge Program. Students who have yet to graduate will be placed in Cougar Tracks and those who have already graduated will participate in the Bridge Program. 

The summer session will expose high school students to college life, he said. 

For instance, they will assign students with roommates from a different high school so they can experience living with a person they do not know, Solorio said.

“Being first-gen — you don’t know what to expect,” Munguia said.

Cougs Rise covers housing, food and other mandatory charges, according to the Cougs Rise website. Students can complete a summer financial aid application to cover all costs associated with the program. 

Graduating seniors participating in the Bridge Program have a chance to travel to Washington D.C., Solorio said. Only students who plan on attending WSU in fall are eligible for this opportunity.  

Munguia said traveling out of state or abroad is one unique aspect of the program, which allows high school students to gain exposure to different cultures and ways of living.  

“By giving the students this opportunity, we’re also expanding their knowledge and their perspectives of what’s out there for them,” Munguia said. “They’re not just confined to what they see locally [at] home.”

During the school year, Solorio said the program connects nine WSU students to high school students from five different schools to provide mentorship regarding homework or life in general.

Bremerton, Hudson’s Bay, Rogers, University and Wenatchee High Schools will participate in the Cougs Rise program, according to the website. Cougs Rise serves 180 students annually, and the program is federally funded under the U.S. Department of Education.

“We’re trying to remove as many barriers as possible for students to go somewhere outside of just a high school diploma,” Munguia said.