Incoming Kent State freshmen to travel to Florence this summer


Pamela E. Jones, coordinator of the National Student Exchange Center, talks to students during an information session held by Trio about opportunities to study abroad on October 13, 2014.

Taylor Meade

Upward Bound will send nine incoming freshmen from local high schools to study at the Kent State’s Florence program this summer.

The federal TRIO program provides pre-college and academic support services to first-generation, income-eligible students. Students grades 9 to 12 can apply to be a part of this program and choose to go into one of three programs: Math and Science, Public Health or the Upward Bound Classic, which is a more general field.

Jasmina Nolan, assistant director of Upward Bound, said the pre-college program gave six students the option last year to study in Florence for the first time.

“Research shows that when you have that study abroad experience, that there is a greater chance that you will remain in college and finish,” Nolan said.

Because the program is federally funded, Nolan said students are expected to earn a degree within six years.

Studying at Kent State Florence can play a big part in being able to assist students with their persistence in college, she said.

Thomas Jefferson, the director of Upward Bound, said when students are selected to study in Florence they’re required to take six to seven credit hours.

“We (the administrative staff) try to make sure that our students are prepared for college in all aspects — academically as well as socially, emotionally and everything else,” he said.

Jefferson said research shows that first generation, low-income students have issues studying abroad, whether it’s the perception or financial aspect of it. A lot of the program’s students aren’t used to other cultures outside of their school or cities limits, he said.

Lataisha Jones, a senior at Barberton High School and an Upward Bound student, said she is looking forward to being in a completely different atmosphere in Italy.

“I think (the trip) will benefit me because it’s getting me out of my comfort zone,” Jones said. “It’ll allow me to be more open and try new things.”

Jones, who joined the program as a sophomore in high school, said she kept her fingers crossed when she heard about studying abroad at Kent State Florence.

Even though she will miss her high school graduation to study in Italy, she feels studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“They’re getting that college credit but also for the population of students that we serve, being able to student abroad is something that they have never thought about or even thought about considering,” Jefferson said.

Contact Taylor Meade at [email protected].