Upward Bound students get their gold on

Tim Magaw

Amid the Homecoming celebrations last weekend, something else was being stressed besides annihilating the Toledo Rockets – academics.

About 150 high school students visited Kent State’s campus for TEAM Upward Bound’s Saturday session, which coincided with the University’s Homecoming. The event was co-sponsored by the Athletics Department.

“It’s a nice, soft, fun way to introduce families to the college concept,” said Geraldine Hayes Nelson, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies.

She also said Upward Bound’s goal is to get students and their families to campus, and a football game is much more appealing way to do so than a financial aid night.

Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program that helps high school students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers and get them into college, according to the program’s Web site.

Carolyn Pizzuto, vice president for human resources, welcomed the students and their families in Bowman Hall and led the group in a Kent State spirit call, cheering, “K-S-U! K-S-U!”

“Keep that spirit,” she told the students. “Keep it all day. Bring it to the game. We’ve got to win!”

But along with the game day spirit, they also focused on academics and college preparation.

Many students are interested in college athletics, Nelson said, but they have to be able to put their academics first.

“There may be times you’ll have to say to coaches that academics come first,” Nelson told the students, adding that if they don’t concentrate on their academics now, college athletics may not be in their future.

“Yes, you’re in high school, but we have to look beyond high school,” Nelson told the group.

Randale Richmond, a former Upward Bound student and current athletic program officer at Kent State, told the students about the NCAA eligibility requirements.

“As a student athlete in college, you have a lot of responsibilities,” he said. “You have responsibility to your team. You have responsibility to your family. You have responsibility to yourself.”

Following the welcome session, the Upward Bound students crammed onto buses and rode to Dix Stadium to get a taste of the Homecoming fever. Associate Athletic Director Peter Mahoney, Athletic Director Laing Kennedy and members of the women’s basketball team welcomed the students to the stadium.

Olivia Collins, a sophomore at Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, said her favorite part of the day was going to the stadium and seeing all the different things set up.

“To see what it’s like at a college event is different from a high school event,” she said. “There’s a lot more people and things set up.”

Michele Collins, an Upward Bound parent whose son attends Admiral King High School in Lorain, said she was amazed at the display outside Dix Stadium.

“I think it’s excellent,” she said. “It’s my first time to any college game. I’m just in awe of the size of it all. It’s awesome.”

Collins said in the two years her son has been in the Upward Bound program, she has all but good things to say about it.

“It’s a good tool for him to learn about college,” she said. “I highly recommend for any parent to get their children involved. If they’re eligible, then do it.”

Travis Charles, a freshman at Timken Senior High School in Canton, said he enjoys being involved with Upward Bound.

“It’s fun because I’m probably going to be able to go to college in this program,” he said. “If you don’t go to college, a lot of the opportunities you could have had at college are all a waste.”

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].