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Upward Bound programs celebrate national success

March 17, 2005
By Sarah Mann

During the War on Poverty in the 1960s, Congress created a series of programs designed to make higher education more accessible to young people who otherwise may not have an opportunity to attend college.

TRIO Day celebrated.Upward Bound - the first of these outreach programs - began in 1964 to prepare underprivileged high school students for college study. A year later in 1965, the second program - Talent Search - was launched to provide counseling to encourage students to graduate from high school and attend college. Talent Search also encouraged high school dropouts to go back to school and earn their diplomas. Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, now Student Support Services, was established in 1968 to help disabled college students complete their degrees through the use of academic resources such as tutoring, counseling and remedial instruction.

By the late 1960s, the term TRIO was coined to refer to these three programs; and today, the TRIO umbrella has grown to include more than seven programs that provide a wide range of services to help students achieve their postsecondary education goals.

There are three TRIO programs currently operating at Ohio University. Upward Bound and Student Support Services, also known as College Adjustment Program or CAP, both originated from the first series of federal programs in the 1960s and still carry the same missions. McNair Scholars - the third and newest program - was established in 2004 specifically to encourage first-generation undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching and prepare for doctoral studies.

The success of these federal programs is celebrated yearly during National TRIO Day, which was established by Congress in 1986 to provide recognition not only to the programs but also to the participants. This year, Ohio University took part in the national celebration on Feb. 26 with its own schedule of events held at Irvine Auditorium.

Ayanna Jordan, director of Ohio University's Upward Bound program, was instrumental in organizing the Athens event, which included an awards presentation and TRIO program alumni speaking on how the programs have helped them reach their education goals.

"Each guest speaker discussed the benefits of being a part of programs that are centered around ensuring their academic success," Jordan says. "All of them said, in one way or another, that they felt they were part of a 'family' and knew that they could always depend on TRIO staff to assist them."

Former Upward Bound participant Corrine Carthell told the more than 60 people at the celebration about her experiences in Upward Bound from 1994 to 1996. Carthell earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from Miami University in 2003, and she is currently working on her master's degree in education at Ohio University. As assistant director of multicultural programs at Ohio University, Carthell remains committed to Upward Bound. Last summer, she worked as the co-residential director for the program's residential summer phase. She also will be on the instructional staff this summer.

"Upward Bound was the foundation I needed to appreciate and take advantage of my college and graduate experiences," Carthell says. "I continue working with the program because of the positive influence it had on me with hopes that future generations can benefit from the program as I did."

Established in 1967 and housed in the College of Education, Upward Bound provides educational, social and cultural activities to potential first-generation college students throughout southeast Ohio. Participants spend six weeks at Ohio University's Athens campus in the summer residential phase of the program. Students live in residence halls and enroll in academic, fine arts, and college and career development courses. They also take part in social and cultural activities on weekends.

Jordan says the program recruits students from 16 area high schools, noting that Upward Bound programs are especially important to rural areas. Jordan also says the program is successful - the retention rate is more than 75 percent, with more than 50 percent of participants enrolling at Ohio University after they graduate from high school.

"Upward Bound programs are a major component in helping students who wouldn't otherwise have access to higher education by providing academic support and access to university social activities," Jordan says. "A lot of students are rurally isolated and have never been to the university. Upward Bound pulls them in and makes higher education attainable."

Sarah Mann is a student writing intern in the College of Education Public Affairs Office.

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