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Josh Brandsen

Josh Brandsen

TRIO Upward Bound Director

Office Address: 370C DEV
Phone: (616) 331-3423

Josh Brandsen currently serves as the Director of TRIO Upward Bound.

You can email Josh at

Margarita Chappell

Margarita Chappell

TRIO Upward Bound Instructor/Coordinator

Office Address: 372C DEV
Phone: (616) 331-6862

Margarita Chappell currently serves as the Instructor/Coordinator for TRIO Upward Bound. Margarita, who is an Upward Bound program alumni from Union High School, joined the team in May 2016. Margarita attended Western Michigan University where she double majored in Criminal Justice and Sociology and went on to receive her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. Her master level focus was on community organizing and youth development. Margarita is passionate about social justice, creativity, education, food, poetry, and working with teens! She is excited to be back with the Upward Bound family after nearly 10 years away.

You can email Margarita at

Bonnie Peterson

Bonnie Peterson

TRIO Upward Bound Office Coordinator

Office Address: 396C DEV
Phone: (616) 331-3144

Bonnie Peterson currently serves as the Office Coordinator for TRIO Upward Bound.  Previously Bonnie served as a program assistant with Great Start Readiness Program at Kent Intermediate School District. She began her professional career at Grand Rapids Community College, which sparked her passion for higher education and serving students academically, professionally and personally.  Bonnie has vast experience working with low income, first generation and at risk students and families.  She strives to make education accessible to all and to provide the resources and supports necessary for students to be successful. 

Bonnie earned an Associates degree from Grand Rapids Community College and plans to soon pursue a Bachelors of Liberal Studies at Grand Valley State University. 

You can email Bonnie at


Student Employees

Clara Bernal

Clara Bernal, TRIO Upward Bound Office Assistant

Clara Bernal is a current GVSU student who works as a student employee in the TRIO Upward Bound office.  Clara graduated from Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is pursuing a major in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Business Management. Clara chose to come to Grand Valley because she was already familiar with the campus and felt right at home.  She is excited to be working with TRIO Upward Bound after being a former alumni from the program and is looking forward to beginning her education in the health sciences.

Kayla Kaminski

Kayla Kaminski, TRIO Upward Bound Office Assistant

Kayla Kaminski is a current GVSU student who works as a student employee in the TRIO Upward Bound office.  She graduated from Pinckney High School in Pinckney, Michigan and is pursuing a double major in English and Elementary Education. Kayla chose to come to Grand Valley because she knew that receiving a liberal education would provide her with new and diverse opportunities. She is excited to be working with TRIO Upward Bound and continuing on her journey towards becoming an educator!

Student Tutors

Carlos Calderon

Carlos Calderon, TRIO Upward Bound Student Tutor

Carlos Calderon is a current GVSU student who works with TRIO Upward Bound students at Union High as an academic tutor. He is majoring in Business. Carlos is a former UB alumni from Union High School and is looking forward to working with students.  He is also excited in becoming more involved with the program Upward Bound as a college student.


2017 Summer Program Teachers


Ms. Ariel Arnold, Environmental Biology


Ms. Brittany Bordewyk, Algebra II


Mrs. Shannon Cohen, Audacious Leadership


Mr. John Nelson, Social Issues


Mr. Carson Ratliff, English

Mr. Ratliff is excited to return this summer for his third year working with the GVSU Trio Upward Bound program. Mr. Ratliff is a Grand Valley grad and loves spending his summers back on campus with the students. Mr. Ratliff will be teaching English 12 this summer and is looking forward to helping the seniors prepare for future success in college and beyond. During the school year, Mr. Ratliff teaches English and Leadership courses at West Michigan Aviation Academy. 


Ms. Courtney Shear, Chemistry

Courtney Shear was born and raised in a small town called Fowlerville, Michigan. She attended GVSU and pursued a Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education. She majored in Biology and minored in Earth Science, while taking extra classes to get her integrated science endorsement allowing her to also teach Chemistry and Physics.  Her passions in life are both people, and academics; thus, education has been the perfect field for her. This is Courtney's first summer working with TRIO Upward Bound, and she is very excited to be in the Chemistry classroom!


Ms. Emily Siriano, Physics


Mrs. Erika Tellez-Gonzalez, Spanish


Mr. David Van Alstyne, Pre-Calc


Ms. Lauren VanSingel, English


Ms. Sally Verklan, English

2017 Summer Program TCs & Tutors


Smriti Abraham, Tutor

Smriti Abraham is a current GVSU student who works as a tutor for the TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program. She will graduate in 2018 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Criminal Justice. She is a part of Grand Valley's Frederick Meijer Honors College and serves as the Vice President of Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority. 


Carlos Calderon, Tutor


Robert Carey, Tutor Counselor


Alicia Gonzalez, Tutor Counselor

Alicia Gonzalez is a current GVSU student who works as a Tutor Counselor for the TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program.  Alicia graduated from Athens High School in Troy, MI.  She will graduate in April 2018 with a degree in Allied Health Sciences with an emphasis in speech-language pathology. Alicia chose Grand Valley due to the many opportunities GVSU offers, the Honors College, and the feeling of a 'home away from home'.  She is excited to be working with TRIO Upward Bound and to continue her education at Grand Valley!



Darwin Harris, Tutor Counselor

Darwin Harris is a current junior at GVSU who works as a Tutor Counselor for the TRIO Upward Bound program. Darwin is pursuing a History major with a Political Science minor.  Darwin is passionate about social equity.  His hobbies include: camping, playing cards (spades specifically), watching movies (specifically scary films), traveling, writing, working with high school students, and attending baseball games (specifically the St. Louis Cardinals home games). This will be Darwin's second year serving as a Tutor Counselor for Upward Bound.  As an Alumni of SIUE-Edwardsville UBMS program, Darwin is very excited to work with GVSU Upward Bound and the students this summer!



Alasia Tardy, Tutor Counselor


Josie Whitsel, Tutor

Josie Whitsel is a recent GVSU grad who works as a Tutor for the TRIO Upward Bound program.  In April 2017 Josie received her degree in  Mathematics Secondary Education.  She plans on continuing her passion for teaching by working with middle school or high school students in the math subject area this fall.  Josie looks forward to supporting Upward Bound students academically this summer.