Upward Bound program teaches important life lessons

BY PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

June 29, 2008 - Thursday, June 26, was a "Day of Play" for youth participating in summer activities at the Boys & Girls Club of Hopkins County. But it was a day of "purpose" for students of the Upward Bound program of Texas A&M University-Commerce who volunteered to lend a helping hand with the more than 130 kids enrolled.

The Upward Bound program, structured to reflect the commitment of purpose, is a precollegiate program designed to assist high school students in preparing for college, not only academically, but socially as well.

"It's a college prep program. They take trips, they get to stay on the university campus for six weeks to experience college life, and they do community service activities with youth organizations like the Boys & Girls Club," said Ayana Pryor, unit director for the Boys & Girls Club, who actually went through the Upward Bound program herself. "They're here to help our junior staff and kind of give us a break."

The 25 students from Bonham, Cooper, Denison, Fannindell, Sherman, Sulphur Springs and Commerce participating in Upward Bound volunteered to assist with events such as flag football, dodge ball, basketball shoot-outs, shuffle board, bowling and relay races.

Upward Bound's presence and interaction with youngsters at the Houston Street facility serves a dual purpose, according to Pryor.

"They're here not only to help us out, but we hope they spark an interest in some of our Boys & Girls Club members to find out about the program for themselves," she explained. "We want to make sure we do everything possible to get these kids in college."

Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves: high school students from low-income families; high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree; and low-income, first-generation military veterans who are preparing to enter postsecondary education.

The goals of Upward Bound is to have a positive impact on the lives of youth; to instill within each student the importance of high moral character, leadership, liberation and education as well as increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

As a participant, student benefits include SAT/ACT preparation, SAT/ACT fee waived, college preparation, free tutoring, TAKS preparation, college tours, cultural enrichment trips and scholarship information.

In fact, each active participant who graduates from high school will be rewarded with an Upward Bound scholarship paying the tuition cost of six credit hours, books, as well as room and board for the summer session prior to entering their first full semester of college.

For more information log on to www.tamu-commerce.edu/upwardbound

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