Upward Bound student reaps rewards of program for 2nd year
Ethelsville native and rising senior at Pickens County High School, Kiara Willingham, is enjoying her second summer in the Upward Bound program at Stillman College. “I look forward to it each summer,” she said.
“My favorite part of the program is getting the help I need. They help me with the classes and subjects that I need help with the most,” she explained. “It is a lot of fun too. Last year we were able to go to Washington D.C.”
Willingham has plans on attending college and perhaps perusing a business degree. “My family has encouraged me to go to college. I look forward to it. If I attend a college that has an Upward Bound program then I want to be involved with it then, too.”
As a component of the program, Willingham is job shadowing in the Office of Marketing and Public Relations for several hours a week under Veronica Clark, Assistant Vice President for the department. “I wanted to job shadow to find out what it takes to work in that area. I want to learn as much as possible,” she said. “Last year I worked in Office of Financial Aid and it was a great experience.”
Her advice to other students who are considering Upward Bound is, “Try it. You will see. You get to be on a college campus and it will show you just how far you can go if you try.”
Upward Bound is the oldest program under the umbrella of the federal TRIO program. The name “TRIO” was first used in the late 1960’s to describe the first three federal outreach programs—Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services. Upward Bound was created in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
The Upward Bound Program has been in existence for over 40 years, and has been at Stillman since 1966. The Program was created to help first-generation college students and students from families that meet income guidelines established by the federal government graduate from high school, attend college and reach their full potential while in college. The Program provides tutoring, ACT, SAT and ASHSE preparation, college and career information, instruction and advisement in academics, counseling, visits and tours to colleges and universities, cultural and social enrichment activities and job shadowing. The summer Program also allows for a six-week residential Program on the Stillman campus. This gives high school students the opportunity to experience living on the College’s campus.
Stillman’s Upward Bound Program serves six counties including: Hale, Perry, Sumter, Green, Pickens and Tuscaloosa. Stillman Upward Bound counselors are Russell Rivers, Elizabeth Lowe and Tywain Griffen. These counselors, along with the Director of the Program at Stillman, Dr. Bettye Mullen, work with schools in these counties to recruit students for the Program. The Program allows admittance for 190 students. A specific number of students are admitted from each school within the counties served by the Upward Bound Program at Stillman.
Ninety percent of the students that attend Upward Bound go on to college. After completing the program and graduating from high school, Upward Bound students are provided a fee waiver to take the ACT or SAT. In addition, the summer following their senior year in high school, Upward Bound students are allowed to enroll in nine college credit hours of course work at Stillman. These classes are offered at no cost to these students and the credits can be transferred to other colleges and universities. Upward Bound facilitators follow-up with previous Program attendees for six years after their completion of the Program. This allows the facilitators to keep up with how the students are doing, what they are doing and how they have grown since the Program.
Dr. Bettye Mullen, Director, stresses the critical need for parents of interested students to turn in all of the necessary paperwork completed on time, and the earlier the better. Mullen continued to explain that many students want to participate in this amazing program and those that have completed the necessary paperwork early are more likely to be admitted to the program than those whose parents wait until later in the game. To be considered for acceptance into the Program, a completed application, a copy of the student’s most recent report card or transcript and documentation of household income is necessary. Students will also be asked to have a face-to-face interview with Upward Bound facilitators.
Applications for the program are accepted year-round. Stillman has three enrollment periods: (Fall) with academic component held July – August; (Spring) with academic component held December; and (Summer) with the academic component held from March - May.
“Many people have the misconception that Upward Bound is a summer program. Though we have a summer component, the Program runs year-long,” said Mullen. Students that are not admitted to the summer component are encouraged to apply to attend the sessions held during the academic year. Classes held during the academic year meet on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Lunch is then served from noon until 1:00 p.m. at which time students are dismissed.
If accepted for the summer component, students receive at no cost: room and board on the Stillman campus, three meals a day, and all travel expenses. In addition, summer students qualify for a stipend of $15 per week and the opportunity to job shadow at $7.00 per hour.
Upward Bound’s academic components include: English, reading, mathematics, natural science, foreign language and computer science. There are also special interest electives such as study skills, speech, creative writing, logic, journalism, choral music, mathematics seminars, a spelling b and a scholars bowl.
For more information, or if you have questions about the Upward Bound program, call 205-366-8904.
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