February 2016 Newsletter - Enjoy!
New Scholars, Inspiring Alumni,  College Acceptances and FAFSA tips!
Caitlin Bevan, HHS UB '04 is making waves in Silicon Valley

 Caitlin Bevan shares her incredible journey from UB to leadership roles in the healthcare and human resource field!
Since graduating from NMH Upward Bound and Holyoke High School in 2004 I completed my Bachelors in Spanish and Education from Bowdoin College. Transitioning to the working world after graduation in 2008 was inherently challenging. I was working 3 jobs to pay my rent and struggling to keep hours at my professional job which was experiencing layoffs and furloughs. The small, educational publishing firm I was working for was losing business; many schools were looking to go to electronic materials or had their budget cut for the upcoming school year in the sinking economy. I knew I needed to get myself into a position where I could focus on one job that could keep the lights on. I recognized I’d need to put myself out into the job market aggressively and go outside my comfort zone of staying in Maine and look at opportunities outside of my current focus of Education and Teaching.
I applied to UNUM, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in South Portland, ME as a “reach” opportunity. UNUM provides a competitive offer to recent college graduates interested in pursuing Sales. I enjoyed the short sales experience I had under my belt and decided to apply.
The initial conversations were going well. I was able to leverage my Bowdoin network to get my resume pulled from the pile. I was notified that there was one open position in the upcoming Sales School and it was for their Chicago Office if I’d like to interview.
I was flown to Chicago to interview with their team, which also required me to present to a boardroom of sales people on a topic they only gave you a few minutes ahead of your turn. Looking back, I actually can’t believe I wasn’t more terrified. But I had spent summers with my peers in NMH practicing interview skills, writing essays to scholarship responses, honing in on my personal story, and by now, this was going to feel as close to second nature as it could.
Upward Bound’s summer program pushed me beyond my comfort zone and taught me how to adapt to new situations and environments. Going to NMH over the summer, I learned how to establish a community and support network with my peers, use as many resources at my disposal and to feel comfortable sharing personal stories and challenges I’ve faced when befriending the other students. UB reinforced for us that our personal hurdles in life were character building – and the obstacles that we had to overcome to get to where we’re at today would one day distinguish us. They told me I was qualified to apply for scholarships, grants and deserved the best education, despite my mother and father never attending a 4-year institution and having no money to put down on tuition.
After going through 6 rounds of interviews in Chicago, my last was with the Market Manager. He had the large corner office facing the downtown Chicago skyline. His office was decorated with many nice things and pictures of his family and kids on exotic trips.
I could tell he enjoyed the pleasure of high-pressure interviews and probably seeing recent college grads squirm in anticipation of what his question would be. He smiled at me, trying to gauge if I was nervous, and said he was going to ask me only one question, “Who is your hero and why?”
Had I not been a part of UB, I would have immediately avoided any personal anecdote to avoid admitting I was different, hiding my challenges that could be perceived as flaws. But I answered his question confidently, and explained that it was my grandmother, who raised me after losing my mother to AIDS after a history of drug addiction, the day before I turned 9 years old.
Completely surprised to hear this, he was taken aback and choked up. I remember feeling awkward and the situation almost comical. I’m sitting in this impressive office, looking at all of his accomplishments and prized possessions, and thinking, why is he crying?
But I’ll never forget his response. He said, “without knowing you personally, I can say with certainty, the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to be where you’re at today will make you successful in anything that you do. You’re hired.”
At Unum, I was promoted within a year from Chicago to manage the clients for a larger book of business in their St. Louis and Kansas City offices and I made the move to St. Louis, a city I had never visited before. Upward Bound was the first time in my life that I left home for the summer, initially not knowing anyone well. It was scary at first. But deep down I knew the opportunity UB was giving me would be an investment in my future and an opportunity to get ahead. I looked at my opportunity in St. Louis the same way. It now will not have been the first time I’d be moving to a new place for a great opportunity.
While in St. Louis, I was consistently a top performer within the National Sales Organization. I managed a team of 6 and began my Professional MBA at Washington University in St. Louis.
While attending my MBA, I worked hard at networking and diversifying my interests outside of corporate insurance. Through my network, I was introduced to people leading the tech industry in Silicon Valley. In 2013 I came out to California and interviewed with Dustin Moskovitz, Co-Founder of Facebook and Justin Rosenstein, prototype builder of G-chat, creator of the Like Button at Facebook, to support their newest venture, Asana, and the infant stages of their startup.
Through working at Asana I was able to learn about the tech industry, the ropes of a startup, and shadow meetings with their Board who included tech tycoons like Andreesen Horrowitz, Peter Thiel and Matt Cohler. My biggest project at Asana was assisting Justin with his keynote speech at Tech Crunch Disrupt New York, arguably the most anticipated annual conference in the tech space and the most pivotal opportunity in his career. Justin and I worked countless hours on his speech, PowerPoint, content, and delivery. It was a proud moment to have played such an important role in supporting him to this moment in his career.
Today I work for Zenefits, a technology company disrupting the HR and Health Insurance space. I was hired as one of the first 100 employees to be an Account Executive on their first sales team. In less than 2 years, we’ve grown to nearly 1800 employees and have been coined the fastest growing company in Silicon Valley history. I’ve been promoted twice now and consistently lead the Sales Organization, and have been awarded the President’s Club each year.
Gisele and her team laid the groundwork for me to successfully apply to college with financial aid and scholarships. They spent countless hours proofreading my college essays and providing feedback. I was told for the first time at Upward Bound that my story will carry me through life, not hinder me, and to embrace the personal challenges I’ve overcome. Thank you, Upward Bound, for believing in me to be the confident, successful professional I am today.

Our seniors are starting to hear back from colleges. Here are some of the places where some of our students have been accepted:
Reminders for our Alumni about Completing Your FAFSA
If you are filling out the FAFSA in 2016, here are some helpful things to know:
  • It is worthwhile to fill out the FAFSA even if you do not think you qualify for Federal aid. Colleges and universities use the FAFSA to determine scholarships. In addition, filing a FAFSA will automatically qualify you for federal loans.
  • In order to increase security, the PIN has been changed to an FSA ID. You will need to create an FSA ID before you can begin filling out your FAFSA.
  • In order to make the process of filing your FAFSA more efficient, it is helpful to collect the following information and documents before you begin: social security number, parents’ social security numbers, driver’s license, federal tax information (including W-2, 1040, 1040EZ, etc.), records of untaxed income, and information about any other assets. More information can be found on
  • Check your college or university’s deadline for completing the FAFSA. The Federal aid deadline for the 2016-17 school year is June 30, 2016, but most colleges and universities expect your completed FAFSA by February or March.
  • To learn more about the FAFSA, you can check out
Northfield Mount Hermon Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program which helps firsgeneration/low income scholars achieve their college dreams.
New Students Join UB
 We are excited to welcome a dynamic group of new scholars from Springfield, Holyoke, and Franklin County into the Upward Bound program. Forty new students have been selected from a competitive pool of applicants. While most of the students are freshmen, a few sophomores and juniors have joined the program as well.

New students and their families came to NMH campus on January 23 for a day of Orientation. Staff introduced students and families to  Upward Bound services, expectations and parent involvement. Student ambassadors led a series of activities to help connect new students to each other and to UB. 

Students have joined their peers in the after school programming this week, and they are a wonderful addition to the community. We look forward to helping you all reach your college goals. 
Senior Spotlight: Mudather Abdelrahman, Sci-Tech
Mudather “Muda” Abdelrahman has only been part of Upward Bound since his junior year, and in his short time with the program, he has become a strong scholar. Originally from Sudan, Muda had no formal education in his home country, and very little in Egypt, where his family spent several years in a refugee camp. Yet Muda has thrown himself into completing his high school education and has worked diligently to become a high achieving student.

He plans to study political science in college and hopes to one day return to Sudan and become involved in politics there. This summer, he attended the week long NCCJ ANYTOWN program, which brings young people together to discuss social justice and diversity issues and prepares them to become social justice leaders in their communities.

We can’t wait to see where Muda will go once he has graduated from our program.  
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