Upward Bound students in Art class

Upward Bound students participate in class in Seigfred Hall

Photo courtesy of: Kwabena Owusu-Kwarteng

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Programs partner to overcome effects of federal budget cuts

Two Ohio University programs are engaging in a partnership this summer to offer a real-world college experience to a group of students who might not otherwise have a chance to see first-hand what life at OHIO is like.

Individually, the Upward Bound and the Summer Honors Academy programs aim to expose high school- aged students to the university experience. Upward Bound, based in The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, is a college-access program offered to prospective first-generation college students who live in a nine-county area in Southeast Ohio.

Similarly, the Summer Honors Academy, offered through OHIO Summer Sessions, gives academically advanced high school students the chance to take actual college classes on the Athens Campus, though these students are recruited from all over the country and even overseas.

But Upward Bound is federally-funded through a grant and serves more than 100 students during the academic year with 50 participating in the summer program, while Honors Academy is a home-grown University-sponsored opportunity engaging between 10 to 14 students. Upward Bound students take college prep classes often taught by OHIO instructors, but Honors Academy students take classes alongside OHIO students, earning college credit.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to put our students in actual OU classrooms,” said Upward Bound Director Kwabena Owusu-Kwarteng. “Last year we were hit by a bit of a budget crunch. We started looking around, and Pat [Davidson] and her office, along with Pam Brown, were very willing to help us.”

Students who participate in Honors Academy are afforded a $1,000 discount on the cost of classes and room and board at OHIO, explained Davidson, who acts as director of the Summer Honors Academy. By offering six Upward Bound students a chance to participate in the Honors Academy, Davidson can help Owusu-Kwarteng offset some of that cost.

“It’s really rewarding to watch them realize ‘I can do this,’ especially for the Upward Bound students. We were really glad to help. For one thing, I’m a native of Athens County and it’s personally rewarding to be able to help students like me,” Davidson said.

Owusu-Kwarteng said Upward Bound is responsible for paying for its participants’ costs on campus, such as housing and dining, and when all the bills are paid, there isn’t much left for tuition.
“We try to minimize the cost as much as we possibly can, at least while they are here so that they understand the system,” Owusu-Kwarteng said.

Davidson and Owusu-Kwarteng described the partnership as mutually beneficial: Honors Academy students benefit from additional classmates like them and Upward Bound students have the chance to push themselves scholastically. Ohio University also comes out on top, said Owusu-Kwarteng.

“When Ohio University talks about diversity, it helps drive home that point. Our Honors Academy students are coming from normally, on average, a much higher income bracket, with two parents. They aren’t necessarily first-generation. Our Upward Bound students are normally coming from the lower income bracket, normally first-generation students. So it kind of drives home the point of some of the things we might take for granted,” Owusu-Kwarteng said. “This, I believe, helps OU, as a university, attract and keep really bright young people.”

This is the second year the programs have joined together, but the first to fall under the new semester schedule. That presented a challenge, Davidson said, but the directors decided to hold the programs during the first five weeks of the second summer session to offer the most availability to potential students.

 An additional 10 Upward Bound students are taking part in Ohio University classes this summer for credit as well. These "Bridge" students have graduated high school and are college-bound. Eight will attend Ohio University in the fall and two more will go elsewhere, but all 10 were able to jump-start their college classes thanks to an additional partnership with Summer Sessions, says Owusu-Kwarteng.