Suffolk University senior Paula Dixon credits the Upward Bound program with helping her to break through the shyness she felt when she entered high school.

“It helped me to connect with other students, develop friendships, and become more social,” says Dixon, a 2011 graduate of TechBoston Academy in Dorchester. “The people I met were like a second family to me.”

During her Upward Bound experience, Dixon worked closely with other students on group projects, learned about teamwork and leadership, and “getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

This experience was one of many advantages she found helpful in the university setting.

“I’m confident every time a professor asks us to break up into groups,” says Dixon, who is majoring in public relations. “What I learned in high school—like how important it is to make sure everyone in the group is heard—gave me a good start once I came to college.

Impact goes beyond academics

She says that Upward Bound’s staff and programs not only helped prepare her for college, but also had an impact on her personal development.

“The opportunities that they provide have allowed me to become the person I want to be,” says Dixon.

The doors opened by Suffolk Upward Bound led Dixon to a semester of study at Suffolk’s Madrid campus and an internship with a New York public relations firm—challenges that she believes help to prepare her for life beyond graduation.

“My Suffolk education has pushed me to be a good student, to seek out internships, and to learn new things every day,” she says. “I hope all of this will help me when applying for jobs.”

Dixon follows the Upward Bound credo that being happy with what you do will lead to success. Her goal is to become a PR pro for a company specializing in food, fashion, health, and wellness.

“I like to write, be creative, and express myself,” she says. “That’s why I love every aspect of public relations. It’s who I am.”