University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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July 16, 2004


Upward Bound Program Encourages Kids to be College Bound

By Molly Exner, UW-River Falls News Bureau

Students who dream of becoming the first in their family to graduate from college were on the University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus June13-July 9 with hopes of making that dream come true.

This year, nearly 70 students in grades 9-12 from Arlington High School in St. Paul, Minn., participated in Upward Bound, a federally funded TRIO program designed to enhance the learning of students from limited income families and/or where neither parent has completed a four-year college degree.

"College can be scary, " according to program director Jill Moe and a first-generation college student herself. "We try to help kids dream of a life that's different. They have the opportunity and every ability in the world to go to college. They can do it."

TRIO is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, providing all activities, travel, lodging and food. Students are also eligible for monthly stipends based on their academic performance and attendance, helping them learn to spend their money wisely.

Students enrolled in Upward Bound attend weekly tutoring sessions at Arlington High School as well as participate in monthly Saturday programs held on the UW-RF campus. During the summer, UW-RF offers a four-week residential program with courses in language arts, math, science, and foreign language. Another week is spent camping at the University's Pigeon Lake facility in Drummond, Wis., with an additional week devoted to service-learning in which each student volunteers 30-40 hours in several St. Paul communities.

English is a second language for about 70 percent of the students at Arlington High School, and according to recent statistics almost half of the students may not complete high school. Upward Bound helps prepare students for college through tutoring, academic-skill building, social and cultural activities, college career awareness and personal and academic counseling, according to Bretta Chaplinski, the program's assistant director.

"We spend so much time with each individual student that we get to know the student's strengths and weaknesses, making it easier for us to help address problems," Chaplinski said.

The success rate of the program is impressive. Of those who remain in the program, nearly 94 percent will graduate from high school. This year, not only are all seniors in Upward Bound getting their high school diplomas, but all are attending college in the fall.

A new feature to this year's summer program is Latin as a foreign language. "When developing the curriculum, I wanted to do something different," said Moe. "A lot of our kids are interested in science and math. Since Latin is strong in each subject and it helps students understand English derivatives for the ACT test, we decided to give it a try."

The kids took to Latin so well that they hope to start a Latin club at Arlington High School, says Moe. "It's neat to see the kids take advantage of something they don't receive on a daily basis," she says. "Exposing them to new experiences makes their world become larger and larger. It helps them capture their dreams."

Students in this summer's program read "The Pact" about authors Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt who grew up in impoverished, broken families in Newark, NJ. The story narrates the men's challenges until Jenkins dreamt of becoming a dentist and learns about a program for minority students interested in careers in medicine. He convinces his two friends to apply to the program, and together they vowed to help each other through. Despite the tremendous distractions and difficulties they faced, today two are doctors and one is a dentist.

Moe says the book truly illustrates the core of Upward Bound's mission. Teamwork is a concept pushed in the University's program, which complements the message of power in people when they unite as told in "The Pact," says Moe. "It's so important for these kids to know that they have each other," said Moe. "We let them know they have the power to control their own destiny, but we also teach them to stand behind one another, put a hand a shoulder and say, I got your back."

Several students said "free time" and socializing with their peers is a favorite activity. Another fun, classic game called Trust tests faith in fellow students to see if the other would catch them by falling blindly into their arms. The students said it worked.

Currently, 770 TRIO programs are in operation throughout the Untied States. More than 2,600 programs serve 872,000 low-income families help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to pursue a higher education.

Editor's note: This year's Upward Bound participates from Arlington High School were: Freshmen: Ubbah Ali, Ashley Dubose, Amanda Gomez, Vincent Hahn, Netisa Hassan, Mai Chong Her, Alexis Jackson,Rolisha Jones, Roba Lolo, Omar Perez, Erica Sahw, Lovette Sakpeidah, Has, Simeon, Donte Smith, Jessica Taylor, Serina Tunstill Sophomores: Samuel Alemu, Ginni Ali, Elizabeth Brown, Veronica Debose, Hang Dinh, Miracle Ehimen, Iskandar Hassan, Precious Jones, Soua Khang, Sufian Kimo, Kylie King, Cheng Lee, Mao Lor, Tong Moua, Fatuma Omer, Ijeoma Ononeny, Jonthan Ray, Nebue Tsegaye, Mai Cha Vang, Pa Kou Vang, Va Vang, Mary Xiong, Pao Choua Xiong, Pila Xiong, Xing Xiong, Xong Xiong, Ka Yang, Pang Chia Yang, Xiong Yang, Yang Yang Juniors: Birtukan Adem, Yonatan Belachew, Hubert Brown, Emmanuel Ehimen, Mai Jee Her, Minnay Ighorojah, Chee Lee, Dennis Lee, Halima Lolo, Mai Yang Lor, Antwone Mann, Boon Mee Moua, Mai See Moua, Abdurezak Tusa, Pazong Vang, Ka Xiong, Somy Xiong, Koua Yang Seniors: Ella Marie Asuncion, Love Ehimen, Ahmend Hussein, Mubarek Lolo, Dia Lee,May Xiong Ly, May Moua, Yer Moua, Hsa Nay, Se Thao, Mu Lar Thaw, Barite Tusa, Vue Vang, Xao Vang, Saney Xiong, Hmong Yang, Houa Yang, Mai K Yang, Mai Lee Yang, Mao Yang.

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