Upward Bound Program at Chowan University Offers Opportunity to High School Students
MURFREESBORO, NC – The Upward Bound Program at Chowan University has been making a difference in the lives of high school students for the past 40 years. The summer program, led by Frank Stephenson, targets first generation college students and helps push them to accomplish great things. “The program is as good as its great, hardworking staff,” Stephenson says. “They constantly remind students they can accomplish what they want to if they prepare to do it.”
In its 40 years the program has served over 3,200 students in Hertford, Bertie, and Northampton Counties. Upward Bound focuses on providing help to strengthen students’ Mathematic and English grades. Through the relationships they build, students also have the opportunity to build their self-esteem, gain work readiness, and approach a different way of learning through travel experiences.
This summer’s program ended on July 22nd with about 40 students. To prepare for the transition from high school to college students visited ten college campuses and attended Personal Growth workshops with motivational speakers and mock interviews. The group also visited museums in Washington, D.C. and participated in an Academic Outreach program hosted at Whitaker Library on the Chowan University campus. The students went on a literacy treasure hunt, answering a series of questions that led them to a treasure chest.
Although many Upward Bound programs in the region have discontinued, Chowan University has been able to continue with their program because of the dedication and passion of the Upward Bound staff. The five person team of Barbara Mulder, Jean Mulder, Hazel Price, Julie West, and Frank Stephenson are able to make cultural enrichment experiences possible for students through Federal grants. “The process for applying to receive these grants is very strenuous and competitive,” comments Stephenson, “We work hard to tailor our grant request to meet specific needs for our students because we truly enjoy what we do.”
“Each student has a story. If it is negative then we try to turn it into a positive one,” explains Jean Mulder.
Some students that were once a part of the program are now successful school teachers, attorneys, and even local pharmacists. One success story comes from Dr. Arwin Smallwood, Chair of the History Department at North Carolina A&T State University. “I would not be doing what I am doing now if it was not for the Upward Bound program. This is where much of my early exposure to cultural diversity and travel came from,” Smallwood says. “I am from a small area in south Bertie County called Indian Wood and like most rural areas we had limited interaction with people outside of our county. I want to thank Frank Stephenson and the Upward Bound program for giving me opportunity and support.”
Stephenson concludes, “I am just blessed to have the opportunity to work with these kids.”