Natalie Sugira came to the UNI Upward Bound program in March of 2014. She came to the United States as a political refugee from Rwanda to escape the genocide that was taking place there. She witnessed the brutal death of her father and lost several family members (including her mother and three siblings) to that genocide. She spoke at the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwana memorial at UNI. She was heavily involved in One Iowa and worked for several state and federal agencies prior to coming to the Classic Upward Bound program.
When Natalie came aboard she jumped into the program feet first and started forming the crucial relationships that are needed to serve students. She had a very positive attitude and impact on the students and staff of the Upward Bound program and the UNI-CUE. She was understanding yet firm and helped the students of the Upward Bound program understand the importance of hard work and to not take life for granted. She was full of optimism for the future and had a profound love for life.
Natalie battled cancer for many years. She passed away on February 10, 2015 at the age of 49 years old. She has been greatly missed by Upward Bound students and staff and UNI-CUE staff. She will always be remembered for her determination, hard work, and her motivating attitude.