Lisa Thompson is a first-generation college graduate who spends every day of her work life making the path to education easier for many.Thompson, director of the TRIO pre-college program at the University of Texas at Arlington, and her team recently secured a $1.25 million grant to begin an Upward Bound program that helps military veterans enroll in college. That grant is one of seven all more than $1 million that fund education assistance programs from the UTA office.Thompson, a Kansas native with bachelors and masters degrees from Kansas State University, moved to Texas in 1984. She says the only way she obtained her education was through the help and support of others. Now I am able to help other people who have dreams and aspirations. With these programs, we can help them realize their potential and hone their skills, Thompson said.The opportunities afforded through these programs are colorblind. We are not talking about a color, Thompson said. We are talking about a financial situation. This is meant to help poor and working families get their kids into college.She also owns Step By Step Dance Studio in Arlington. Her daughter, Erica, teaches there after graduating from UTA. I feel committed to working with youth and helping them find those things that will enable them to have personal motivation, Thompson said. Her work clearing a path to the classroom door affects many North Texans from high school seniors to veterans and creates a positive outlook on the daunting fiscal task that attaining a higher education has become. There are more opportunities for students to grow and develop in this community, Thompson said.We stood on peoples shoulders that came before us so we could get here. Now we have shoulders we want these kids to use. We want to make a difference in the lives of other people, and we have to do that one day and one person at a time.Tell us about someone you admire in the community on Twitter @startelegram with #BlackHistory or on our Facebook to honor them during Black History Month.To celebrate Black History Month, the Star-Telegram will highlight the accomplishments of local black residents throughout February. While their talent and dedication not their race make them noteworthy, it has been a national tradition since 1976 to honor the contributions of African-Americans. In that vein, were featuring people in and around Fort Worth.