Beckley, West Virginia – Since 1966, West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) has received federal grant funds for the Upward Bound program. WVU Tech must reapply for these funds every five years, and this year’s grant renewal marks the longest-running continuous Upward Bound grant in the state.
This year, WVU Tech served 90 high school students from Fayette and Raleigh counties. These students are those who would be first-generation college students and who have a desire to go to college. Students spend five weeks on campus taking classes.
In recent years, the Upward Bound grant has been expanded at WVU Tech to serve both Fayette and Raleigh county students. Historically, only Fayette county students were accepted. However, Scott Robertson, Assistant Dean of Students, hopes to continue to expand services in the coming years.
“There is a huge need,” Robertson says.
The program provides first-generation and limited-income students with academic and financial support to put them in a better position to not only go to college, but to complete their post-secondary education and succeed in the workforce. Students in the program get a small stipend during the summer and the school year to help offset costs.
Each summer for five weeks, students stay on WVU Tech’s campus. Their schedules are designed as if they are college students, taking core classes like math, speech, English and science and electives like disc golf and chess.
“We look for students who have a desire to go to college and help them navigate that process. Upward Bound students are more likely to finish high school and complete higher levels of education,” says Robertson.
In addition to living in a residence hall and taking courses, students can travel and have cultural experiences they might not have otherwise.
The theme of the summer was music. Students got to write and record their own songs with a professional from Atlanta, Georgia, and learn the science behind music and production. Students also traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to explore, experience the city and tour colleges.
“Upward Bound has helped me in many ways. I’ve traveled to places I’ve never thought I’d see in a million years. I’ve toured colleges, which was one of my original reasons for joining the program and I’ve made so many new friends. Upward Bound means so much to me and has for the past four years of my life,” says one participant.
Robertson was an Upward Bound participant and says he would not have gone to college had it not been for his Upward Bound experiences.
“I went to Upward Bound at Marshall and I would not be where I am today had I not had that opportunity. It’s all about changing trajectories,” he says.
“It’s also all about finding passions and helping students grow in those areas. We see such a big change in students from the beginning of the program to the end,” he remarks.
Robertson says Upward Bound is accepting new students in Fayette and Raleigh counties for the upcoming year. Students and parents interested in signing up for the Upward Bound program can contact their individual school counselors or call the WVU Tech Upward Bound office at 304-929-1290.
For more information about Upward Bound at WVU Tech, visit techupwardbound.wvutech.edu.