University partners with Upward Bound, helps students reach college dreams

Carson-Newman University is partnering with Upward Bound to help low-income high school students realize their dream of attending college.

The Upward Bound program, the first of the governmentally funded TRIO programs, began in 1964 as part of the Economic Opportunity Act in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

This summer marks the completion of a full year on Carson-Newman’s campus.

“The overall goal is to provide the services and skills that are required to help these students not only go to college, but graduate with a four-year degree,” said Upward Bound Interim Director David Alvis, who directs programs for Scott, Morgan, Grainger and Hawkins counties.

While Carson-Newman hosts Upward Bound, Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority oversees the high school initiative.

Alvis, an employee of Douglas-Cherokee, partners with the University to house Saturday classes for the students throughout the school year. Carson-Newman also hosts their four-week summer residential program.

Throughout the year, the program utilizes tutoring, academic counseling, as well as the Saturday sessions at Carson-Newman to teach test preparation, life skills, and financial literacy. During this time, college-age facilitators—many Carson-Newman students—teach ACT prep and other courses during the sessions.

Jenny Bridges, a rising Carson-Newman senior, serves as a facilitator for Upward Bound.

“Everything about this program is to prepare these kids for college,” Bridges said. “I think it really goes well with what we are trying to do at Carson-Newman. We are all really service-oriented so it is great to open up our home for all of these kids.”

Megan Barry is an upcoming senior at Grainger High School who participates in Upward Bound. “Normally I don’t do much with school, and now I have something to do,” she said.

Along with the academic component of the program, students also have the opportunity to attend afternoon classes that allow them to explore other areas of interest, such as drama, art, nutrition, and even a class on coaching football.

Kathryn Nabors, a student at Wartburg Central High School, took a painting class taught by Carson-Newman art alumna Caitlin Buchanan. Nabors said the experience was valuable as she hopes to one day major in art.

“I just like doing stuff like that because it helps me for the future,” said Nabors.

Upward Bound seniors participate in a Bridge program to further simulate the college experience and prepare them for attending in the fall. The seniors are enrolled in real Carson-Newman classes during the summer and receive college credit, which they can transfer to their chosen university.

Alvis explained that housing Upward Bound on a university campus and hiring university students is critical to the success of the program.

“They get to see campus life,” Alvis said. “The Carson-Newman students have shown them different aspects of college life and what to get ready for. It helps in so many ways.”

This fall, three Upward Bound graduates will enroll as Carson-Newman freshmen.