The Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound programs are among fewer than 800 similar projects nationwide that have been selected to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education through two competitive TRiO grant proposals.
The funding to D&E totals $3,227,565, and will continue over the next five years. The grant awards provide $395,513 annually for the Upward Bound program serving students in Randolph, Barbour and Tucker counties, and $250,000 annually for the Pendleton and Pocahontas counties Upward Bound program.
The Upward Bound program, 100 percent funded by the Department of Education, is a federal TRiO program dedicated to assisting low-income, first-generation Appalachian high school students in their transition from high school to college. The program helps high school students learn how to finance and prepare for college, but does not provide college funds.
Members of the 2012 Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound graduating class are, from left, first row, Aaron Hedrick, Samantha Harris, Tracy Mullenex, Niki McCune, Heather Burnside, Miracle Boltz, Santana Beck, Miranda McNabb, Gina Dove, Erin Taylor, Ricky Shinaberry and Kaitlyn Nestor; second row, J.J. Nelson, Daniel Horner, Jonathan McNemar, J.W. Scott, Jake Piercy, Levi Martin, Allison Howell, Mikayah Irwin, Gloria Jerome, Bethany Williams and Susan Simmons; last row, Jared Flynn, Tyler Hefner, Zeke Propst, Mariah Rowe, Christa Varner, Brandon Gloshen, Callie Cathell and Brooke Weese. Graduates not pictured are Amber Abbott, Macey Bennett, Ashley Hammons, Lindsey Kinder, Ariel Lawson, Doug McCollam, Hillary Paugh, Brittiny Snyder, Lauren Whitehair and Stephanie Williams.
Irene Rader Melson, a 2000 D&E graduate and 1995 D&E Upward Bound Randolph County alumna, says those services helped pave the path to her college career.
"Without Upward Bound, I don't know that I would have ever known of the opportunities that were out there," Melson says. "I was able to find scholarships and grants, and was put in contact with tutors, and admission directors. No matter what type of question or assistance I needed, Upward Bound was an invaluable source of information and guidance."
Upward Bound has been a part of Davis & Elkins College since 1989, when funding for the first class was designated for students in Randolph County. The program expanded in 1991 to include students from Randolph, Barbour and Tucker counties; and again in 1999 to include students from Pendleton and Pocahontas counties. Currently, the program serves 88 students in grades 10 through 12 from Randolph, Barbour and Tucker counties, and 50 students in the same academic range from Pendleton and Pocahontas counties.
The college also has a third TRiO program -Veterans Upward Bound, which serves veterans of the armed forces.
During the academic year, D&E Upward Bound students participate in monthly challenge sessions. These meetings consist of various academic topics, such as career, academic exploration, financial aid, cultural and community service. Students are required to take part in two hours of tutoring, which will prepare them for standardized tests, career and college and scholarship explorations. Students meet with academic and school advisors in their high schools weekly.
"The programs are an integral part of the high school's efforts and support the increase of college-going rates in our area and state," D&E's Upward Bound-TRiO Director Carol Suder-Howes adds.
Upward Bound also has a six-week summer program on the D&E campus. Students live in dorms from Sunday evenings through Friday afternoons. They attend academic classes during the day, and participate in social, cultural and athletic classes throughout the evenings.
"It's really wonderful to see all the learning that happens," Suder-Howes says.
Students may be eligible for a "bridge" four-week summer program after graduating from high school. In this program, students may be offered up to two college classes at D&E. Students live in dorms, have a meal plan, participate in college preparatory workshops, and can earn six college credits.
Davis & Elkins College, in conjunction with other collaborating agencies, schools, individuals and businesses, supports the Upward Bound programs and participants to provide a successful college entry and completion rate that exceeds 85 percent. The College additionally supports program efforts and student success after program participation. Currently there are 43 former Upward Bound students who have been afforded the opportunity to pursue their educational interests through support from D&E's Highlands Scholar program.
Among that group is Chelsi Primaverao of Tucker County who is pursuing a degree in History Education at D&E.
"Upward Bound taught me how to be a better student and to take my education seriously, but it also taught me to be a more open person," Primaverao says. "It was because of D&E Upward Bound that I was able to step outside of my shell and go confidently in the direction of my dreams without any fears. I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy, in the spring of 2013, and it is due to the wonderful students and staff of TRiO that always told me that I could do whatever I wanted in life. I'm so thankful for the amazing experience of Upward Bound, and know that I am the person I am today because of it."
Upward Bound was created as part of the nation's War on Poverty during President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration. Establishing the TRiO program helped children, who are either impoverished and/or whose parents do not possess a baccalaureate degree, to reach academic success and graduate with a post-secondary education. The programs provide additional academic support for children identified as living in at-risk areas or areas where they might not have access to various resources necessary for postsecondary success.