First generation college students ‘Upward Bound’

Shantae Rollins

Braheem Wahid, a dance performace major, talks with Nyema Bedell, a graduate assistant and counseling mentor, Thursday night at the Upward Bound Alumni meeting. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

As many students spent their last few days of summer with friends and family, others were equipping themselves with tools for academic success.

“If it wasn’t for classes over the summer, I would be having a harder time with classes now,” Marcina Sims, a freshman accounting major, said.

Sims is one of the students who spent part of summer participating in Upward Bound. Group members lived in the Residence Halls and participated in university orientation workshops.

Upward Bound, a federally funded program, specializes in preparing high school students for enrollment, retention and graduation from institutions of higher education, according to the Undergraduate Studies Web site. After completing the program, some students begin attending Kent State.

“Eligible program candidates are first-generation college students from low-income families, who must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA while in the program,” assistant project director Thomas Jefferson said.

Beginning freshman year of high school, students selected for the program engage in on-campus activities. These include monthly Saturday sessions, tutoring and workshops, a six-week residential academic program and a personalized college preparation program their senior year.

Kiaira Williams, a freshman human development and family services major, said she feels prepared for college thanks to Upward Bound.

“I like not being lost and knowing I have that security with Upward Bound,” Williams said.

Henry Adams, a freshman physical education major, is now an alumnus of Upward Bound.

“We learned college expectations and class structure, and we all got introduced to dorm life,” Adams said.

Once students arrive, they have access to academic support through tutoring, advising, mentoring, career exploration and computer labs, Diane Munson, the assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies, said.

Geraldine Hayes Nelson, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies, feels Upward Bound helps students assimilate into college life.

“I think it’s helping first-generation students to be successful in college,” she said. “They become so accustomed to this campus and build relationships, like a family.”

Contact student affairs reporter Shantae Rollins at[email protected].