5 questions with…former Marine, Upward Bound leader Miguel Sanders

When the Upward Bound program at Case Western Reserve University started in 1966, it was part of a group of federal programs designed to help low-income and potential first-generation college students get through high school and prepare them for success in higher education. Now, 46 years later, Case Western Reserve’s program is still going strong and has just earned another grant of nearly $500,000 for the first year (the grant is expected to run five years).

Over the years, the Upward Bound program at Case Western Reserve has changed, and so has its leadership. Earlier this year, the university welcomed Miguel Sanders as the program’s director.

A native of Santa Barbara, Calif., who moved to Cleveland as a child, Miguel Sanders spent four years in the Marine Corps before earning an undergraduate degree in social work from Cleveland State University. Sanders later earned his master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University (SAS ’96), an experience that helped him academically and culturally.

More importantly, his experience at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences helped him realize his career goals: He wanted to assist students in the development and matriculation of minority students on a college campus, he said.

And that’s precisely what he’s doing today as director of the TRiO/Upward Bound program at Case Western Reserve University.

Read more about him.

1. What superpower would you most like to have?
I would love to have endurance as my superpower. I would relish the ability to accomplish many things while staying incredibly physically fit. Often times I speak about there not being enough hours in a day. However, more often I don’t have the physical stamina to maintain the same vigor to complete tasks around the clock.

2. What’s your favorite place to dine in Cleveland?
My favorite place to dine is Morton’s The Steakhouse because the food is great and I love when they put your name on the menu [a personalized experience Morton’s offers for special occasions]. The first time I went to Morton’s was for my birthday, and the food and dining experience was splendid.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I dreamed of becoming a professional outside linebacker in the National Football League. My favorite team was the Cleveland Browns and my favorite player was the elusive tear-away-jersey-wearing Greg Pruitt. Although I never played football after my time in the U.S. Marine Corps, I did run track in college and kept myself in fairly decent shape.

It wasn’t until after I started working at a child care agency that I actually made a decision to major in social work. My profession was a calling and I knew my heart was geared toward helping at-risk children become more social, academic and, overall, higher functioning.

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of—personally and professionally?
I feel extremely blessed to have become a father of three beautiful children and have been a husband for over 22 years.

Professionally, I am humbled that I have been able to positively impact the lives of so many at-risk youth as a result of my education, career path and life experiences.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
The school is like a precious stone in the middle of a city, which allows me to share it with those who would not typically gain exposure.

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