WVU School of Nursing Beckley Campus on WVU Tech's campus recently hosted the Southern West Virginia Junior Nursing Academy.
summer, students come to WVU Tech’s campus for six weeks to take classes, learn
about college life and get a head start on the upcoming school year. For
Raleigh County students, this was the first time they were able to participate
in the WVU Tech Upward Bound program.
WVU Tech’s Upward Bound program has been running since 1966. Last year, the federal grant was expanded to include Raleigh County students for this summer. Students from every high school in Fayette and Raleigh counties participated in the program.
The program provides first-generation and limited-income students with academic and financial support to help them to complete post-secondary education and succeed in the workforce.
Students take math, English, communication and science as part of their core curriculum for the summer, explains Scott Robertson, Assistant Dean of Students.
They also take electives like French, disc golf and physical education and participate in a study hall every day. At the end of the summer, students who pass all their core classes are rewarded with a trip to Washington, D.C. All students in the program passed their classes this summer, Robertson said.
“They’re visiting the Holocaust museum, the monuments at night, the U.S. History Museum, African American Museum of History and Culture, Arlington National Cemetery, the zoo, and will have some free time,” Robertson said.
They will also be touring James Madison University; one of five college campus tours Upward Bound students took this summer. The other four campus tours were to local colleges and universities.
Lucy Farris, an upcoming sophomore at Liberty High School, said she’s enjoyed the experience so far and has even discovered potential options for college when she graduates high school.
“They know it’s our summer so they’re not making it boring. They encourage us to do stuff to learn and it’s really fun. I’ve never really been excited about learning before,” she said. “I was thinking about college in middle school. I want to be an English teacher and coach. I didn’t realize there were colleges out there that were smaller," she explained. "I would rather be in a smaller learning environment because it’s easier for me to learn and comprehend things than being in a 500-seated classroom.”
Besides schoolwork and getting a head start for the upcoming school year, Upward Bound also gives students new experiences outside of the classroom.
“We went to Charleston to the Clay Center and then we went ice skating. That was a cool experience. I had never been ice skating before,” Farris said.
Anthony Davis, a rising sophomore at Woodrow Wilson High School, echoed Farris’s sentiment. He’s originally from Texas but has lived in Beckley for a few years.
“I think Upward Bound is a place for you to explore what college is like in a controlled environment,” Davis said.
Like Farris, he wants to study English in college but also would like to work for a publishing company or become an English teacher.
“I knew I wanted to go to college since first grade,” he said. “I had fun. It was very exciting meeting new people and everything. When I go home on the weekend, I can’t wait to come back. On the Sunday we first started, I wanted to leave, but by the end of the first week, I wanted to come back immediately. It just helps people who are on the fence or want to experience college understand what college is. I always wanted to go to college, but I didn’t really know how college was. I knew it was different from high school. Now I see the benefits of going to college more than before. The month went by so fast, and I thought it was going to drag on,” he laughed.
Robertson said seeing the transformation students have from day one to the end of the program is always a highlight.
“One of the highlights is seeing the two counties come together. We had our banquet and some of the students that got awards might not necessarily get that recognition, so it’s nice to acknowledge their growth during the summer. We tell them the first day you come here, you are no longer that student. You’ve shown yourself that you can do college. You’ve done schoolwork, social life. You can do it. You’ve changed, you’ve morphed,” he said.
Farris and Davis agreed they are no longer the same students they were when they first started the program, and acknowledged they learned many skills that are going to help them going into the new school year.
“I’m not going to be as shy to speak anymore,” Farris said. “I wasn’t really shy, but I stutter when I’m on the spot. I think I’m going to be ahead of the game,” she said.
“I’m more outgoing than I used to be. I used to keep to myself and now I kind of put myself out there. I feel like it’s maturing,” Davis said.
“I think Upward Bound is important for kids, especially low-income kids because they can know they have options. It’s not just this bubble, that this is only what you get. I think that’s important for kids to know. In general, I didn’t know any of this stuff was here like grants or anything like that was available. I think it’s going to prepare me a lot more and prepare me for college and high school in my junior and senior years, and even jobs and how I want to live my life,” commented Farris.
“I would never have dreamed of going to these places, doing these things, and I’m doing it,” said Farris.
"When I’m successful I’m going to look back and give all the credit to Upward Bound because I wouldn’t have known where to go or how to do it. No one in my family has been to college, so I will be the first to do that. Everyone here has a story to tell. A rough life, a traumatic experience. I think Upward Bound is important because it’s helping them have options,” she said.
For more information about Upward Bound at WVU Tech, visit techupwardbound.wvutech.edu.