Pam Pritzker – Ridley

One of NEOA’s 2023 TRIO Achievers, Pam is currently a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter.

It is scientifically proven that teenage brains do not have the capacity to process and understand the future implications of their decisions. This notion does not hold true for Pam Pritzker-Ridley’s decision to join Upward Bound in high school. The appeal of escaping the family home and living among peers overshadowed other options available to her as a high school student. Growing up with young parents who had a volatile relationship, she found relief in the University of New Hampshire’s Upward Bound program.

Although Pam knew she wanted to go to college as a way out of her circumstances, she admits that she lacked the resources to get there.

In ninth grade, she was invited to a presentation about a summer program. The presentation introduced them to Dan Gordon, the Director of UNH Upward Bound, who spoke about the transformative power of TRIO. Following the presentation and the application process, they were accepted into Upward Bound. Pam describes her summer experience with Upward Bound as groundbreaking and profound. She stated, “Upward Bound provided a level of lifelong support that defies simple description.”

During her first year of college in Boston, she said she felt like a fish out of water surrounded by privileged students but found solace in her support from Upward Bound, the FUTURES program, and other programs that facilitated college visits and scholarships.

Pam received her Masters of Science in Teaching from Pace University-New York and has worked for various interpreting agencies in Southern California and New York City. Currently she is a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter.

Pam emphasizes that “To say TRIO has impacted my life is far too trivial and simplistic. TRIO has provided me a space to connect with people like me. I have roomed with strangers from TRIO and we are forever connected..without TRIO, my life would not be as rich, both in skills and with community.”

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