Martina Granados, director of California State University, Fresno’s Upward Bound and English Language Learner Upward Bound programs, is the recipient of the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel’s highest award.

Granados has worked with Upward Bound programs at Fresno State since 1991 and was appointed the director in 2001. Upward Bound assists low-income, first-generation, college-bound students to further their education beyond high school.

A native of Mexico, she attended high school in Chowchilla, arriving at Fresno State through the university’s College Assistance Migrant Program and Educational Opportunity programs. Granados made the most of her opportunities, earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a master’s in counseling from Fresno State as well as pupil personnel services and administrative credentials.

“It’s a privilege to work at Fresno State, which remains committed to being accessible to the broadest group of students possible and helps low-income and underrepresented youth prepare themselves for a successful college experience,” said Granados.

“Our future lies in the hands of the students we serve and we have to make every effort to help them build successful careers in service to our region and beyond by assuring that they will be good stewards,” she added.

Granados said her future holds more of the same: “I want to continue serving and encouraging young people – many of whom (like me) are the first in their families to attend college – to further their education and take advantage of the opportunities offered to them so they can have a better life.”

Upward Bound programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, provide students supplemental instructional activities and assistance to acquire the academic skills and motivation to succeed in high school and prepare for college, said Granados.

Fresno State Upward Bound serves students at Edison, Fresno and Roosevelt high schools in the Fresno Unified School District and at Sanger and Madera high schools.

Granados will accept the Steve Holeman Award on Tuesday, March 2, at the association’s 2010 conference, which begins Sunday, Feb. 28, in Long Beach.

The Holeman Award honors the memory of one of the Western association’s founders. It recognizes a director’s dedication to educational excellence and equity, concern for developing students’ potential and example of professional administration.

Association members are from American Samoa, Arizona, California, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands and Palau.

The conference is an opportunity for Granados and her team’s professional development and training and to hear updates on federal TRIO programs that provide resources to open educational opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented students.