Ohio University

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Published: February 21, 2019 Author: Tony Meale

Vinton County High School senior Tyler Harber received a full scholarship to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he will enroll this fall. Founded in 1861, Vassar College consistently ranks as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. U.S. News & World Report, in fact, ranked Vassar No. 11 in its 2019 rankings.

Harber participated in Ohio University’s Patton College of Education Upward Bound and College Bound programs as a high school freshman and senior, respectively. College Bound, which replaced Upward Bound, provides potential first-generation college students with skills and support services that cultivate resilience, confidence, and preparation for a healthy and successful transition to a postsecondary institution upon high school graduation.

Harber was one of nine students to participate in a weeklong College Bound enrichment program in July 2018.

“College Bound had some really good speakers come in and talk about the different colleges they attended,” said Harber. “Things like that just help your confidence when you think about applying to college, going to school out of state, being around people you’re not used to, and speaking with admissions counselors.”

Harber used that confidence to apply to the out-of-state college, and was rewarded for his efforts.

“I was surprised and excited to receive the scholarship. I really did not expect to get in at all, but it all worked out. Vassar is a great school in a great location.”

College Bound Project Manager Coleen Dietsch-Krubl couldn’t be happier for Harber.

“I’m so proud of Tyler and all that he has accomplished,” she said. “I knew as soon as I met him that he was an impressive young man, and I have no doubt that he will achieve great things at Vassar. He is a wonderful example and product of the work we do.”

Harber’s scholarship will help him achieve his lifelong goal of attending college.

“I’ve always had a goal of either either starting my own company or going to college,” he said. “That was always something in my mind, and I always tried to work hard. I spent a lot of time studying for the SAT and ACT. I wanted to make sure that I could go somewhere and put myself in a position to succeed. I was going to go wherever I could that would put me in position to succeed without student-loan debt. I’m so happy.”

Harber applied for the scholarship through QuestBridge, which connects the nation's brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education. Vassar’s tuition in 2018-19 was $56,960.

“I definitely think getting the scholarship had something to do with growing up in Vinton County and Appalachia,” said Harber. “I come from a family of coal miners. My grandfather and his dad ran a pretty big operation before they sold it in the 1980s. The coal mines died off in Vinton County, but we grew up around it.”

Harber also grew up around Ohio University, which had a profound impact on his life.

“It’s the only major college this side of Columbus,” he said. “That was one of the schools that when I was young I wanted to go to. Had it not been for this scholarship, it’s definitely possible I would have gone to OU. It’s a phenomenal school, and just growing up around it really helped me.”

Harber will soon live near a new school in a different state. He traveled to New York City in 2016 but has never visited Poughkeepsie.

“I’ve never been within two hours of the campus,” he said. “I’m trying to get out there. I’m just looking at ways to line up the finances.”

Harber is undecided on a major but plans to pursue a STEM career, likely in physics or engineering.

“Tyler’s full scholarship to Vassar College is one of the greatest success stories to come out of our Upward Bound and College Bound programs,” said Renée A. Middleton, dean of The Patton College of Education. “We will certainly use him as a role model in our program for years to come. His experience validates the importance of funding such college-readiness programs, and we are grateful he shared his journey with us!”

College Bound, which is offered at no cost to the students, is currently accepting new eligible participants from any of the five Athens County high schools and Vinton County High School. Taking place yet this school year are several college readiness events, as well as a student-led community-based, service learning project within each of the above-mentioned schools.
Additionally, College Bound will be hosting a free summer program this July 15 – August 3, which is to include an array of academic offerings (general education-level English, chemistry, math, Spanish, STEM, and art) and service-learning opportunities that will include both classroom and non-classroom (field) instruction. This year’s summer program participants will reside on campus, allowing them to experience life as a college student. The program will culminate with a trip to Washington, D.C., where participants will be immersed in the cultural offerings of our nation’s capital. Space for the summer program is limited to 20 participants and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information regarding participating in College Bound, please contact Coleen Dietsch-Krubl, program manager, at krubl@ohio.edu.