The February announcement that USF administrators would not renew Upward Bound’s federal grant triggered the development of initiatives from community leaders and members of USF to increase the program’s presence on campus.
Vice Provost for Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach, Dr. Mary Wardell said, “One of the outcomes we have seen are faculty from across campus working directly with Upward Bound students, wanting to know how they can better integrate into their service learning and the amount of integration with curriculum is awesome.”
Upward Bound is a high school college preparatory program that works with low income and first generation students to make going to college a reality. They provide guidance through the college application process, provide mentorship opportunities and host a summer bridge program that allows students to live on a college campus for up to five weeks. Upward Bound has been at USF for twenty-seven years.
From their offices in the Under Hill building, Upward Bound runs their classic program and a math and science program.
Darlene Conwell, Associate Director for the Math and Science program said, “There’s been a tremendous outpour of support from the university faculty, staff and even students continuing to support the program particularly within the math and science component.”
USF Computer Science Professor E.J. Jung collaborated with Math professors Paul Zeitz and Cornelia Van Cott to initiate Upward Bound math circles— one hour classes taught over the duration of seven weeks on campus.
Professor Van Cott said she and Professor Zeitz are teaching about 16 students this semester. After having taught two classes Van Cott said, “The students are hardworking and willing to learn… It is too early to know how the class will impact them, but Paul and I hope that the class is one piece of the puzzle that encourages them to continue their education in math and science after high school.”
The classes focus on highlighting how math can be used in everyday situations.
Students from the School of Management have also been sharing their marketing skills in a service learning project with Upward Bound.
In the city, Upward Bound’s chapter at USF was also recently recognized for their partnership with UCSF’s Medlink program. The partnership allows Upward Bound students to shadow medical students that show them how to diagnose patients and enter a morgue. Conwell said the program is meant to teach students interested in becoming doctors about the typical days of medical students.
Conwell also said 30 out of 43 of their current seniors are way ahead of deadline in submitting their CSU applications which became available online on October 15.
Looking back on the idea of not having been able to remain at USF, Executive Director Janice Dirden-Cook said, “It caused us to reassess what our values and the level of commitment we really have to multiculturalism and embracing diversity not just tolerating it but celebrating it and really making it a part of our culture.”
An Upward Bound Advisory Board developed in June as a requirement for Upward Bound to remain on campus.
A group of about ten faculty and staff members have also developed a committee that collaborates with the advisory board in improving Upward Bound’s professional staff development, fundraising and program management.
Dr. Elena Flores, an active faculty member on the committee spoke about what fuels her commitment to keeping Upward Bound on campus. She said, “Upward Bound youth belong to our USF community and as community members should benefit from the rich knowledge, skills, and resources of our faculty, students, and staff.
At the same time, we have much to learn from Upward Bound youth creating a mutually enriching learning experience.”
Upward Bound’s staff is currently working with the USF Office of Sponsored Projects and Grants to write the grant proposal that would guarantee the Upward Bound chapter remains at USF for another five years.