SALEM, W.Va. — Hundreds of West Virginia high school students aspiring to one day go to college converged on the campus of Salem International University Wednesday to participate in the Upward Bound “Fun Day” Olympics.
Tim Young, Upward Bound Director at SIU said the event coincides with the summer sessions for the Upward Bound programs.
“One day out of that four to six weeks, we all get together on one of the campuses that hosts an Upward Bound and just have fun academic events, athletics events, artistic events, something all the students can participate in.”
Other than the more than 20 different activities and subsequent award ceremony, the students also heard a motivational speech from former NAIA basketball Player of the Year and First Team All American at Salem College in 1976 Archie Talley, as well as from SIU President Dan Nelant, who spoke on the importance of education.
Upward Bound is one of the TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education since 1965 that focuses on helping first-generation and low income students prepare for college.
“We work with them all through their high school career,” Young said. “With financial aid, scholarships, how to write essays, provide tutors, we provide laptops. We do cultural trips throughout the year because a lot of our students, because of their income don’t have the opportunity to travel at all.”
The two main Upward Bound Programs are the summers session –which include college prep classwork– and weekly sessions and tutoring session during the school year.
“We do provide a tutoring program for them because one of our main goals is to get them to a 3.0 by their senior year in high school, so it makes them much more attractive for scholarships,” Young said. “We work on ACT skills SAT skills and stuff like that.”
On a large scale, the program is considered to be a success with funding continually renewed.
On a small scale, Shelby Bradford can tell you herself that Upward Bound can assist individual students with achieving their college dreams.
Now a junior at West Virginia University, she attributes her initial success to the program.
“I got support. I got help answering questions about things like [the Free Application for Federal Student Aid], about where do I look for scholarships, how do I search for colleges, what do I look for in colleges and majors and how do I match a major with a career,” Bradford said. “It was just so helpful.”
To return the favor, she now serves as one of the summers assistant for SIU’s program.
“It is the best felling in the world because I love Upward Bound and I loved going to the program,” she said. “I knew pretty much by the end of my first summers session that I wanted to come back and do this all over again but this time on the flip side, helping students that are going to be in my place in two years.”
More information about Upward Bound –and other TRIO programs such as Veterans Upward Bound– can be found here.