Upward Bound Holds Summer Program

Upward Bound studentsUpward Bound is a federally funded, grant program that serves first-generation and low-income high school students in their pursuit of higher education.


First-generation college students are those who are looking to be the first generation in their family to graduate college. Upward Bound serves these students in grades 9-12 in McMinn and surrounding counties, helping prepare them for a successful University career.


Upward Bound is housed on the TWU campus, though only some students will eventually attend the University for their full-time schooling. The highlight of the program is an intensive summer program, which includes academic training, ACT preparation, as well as fitness, day trips, residence hall activities, and more.


The majority of Upward Bound programs have gone virtual this summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local Upward Bound had a unique issue, however, serving a more rural community.


“The summer is the key component of the whole program,” said Upward Bound Director Leslie Fulton. “We plan everything around this, if we move it to a virtual format, we have to make sure every student is getting fully served. Making it virtual in a rural community like ours, with less internet access, really would have been impossible.”


Working together with Dr. Scott Mashburn, TWU’s VP for Student Life, the Upward Bound staff made the decision to hold their summer program on the TWU campus as planned. Employing numerous safety measures, the students arrived May 25 and will continue through the month of June.


Safety precautions begin with students every Sunday when they arrive (after going home for the weekend) with questions that would set off COVID-19 red flags and temperature checks with non-contact thermometers. No student can enter a residence hall until they’ve cleared the screening process.


Once they’re on campus, multiple measures are taken, including distancing in classrooms and the dining hall (only 4-6 students per table), urging non-contact, recommending masks, students are even staying in residence hall rooms by themselves.


Residence halls and classrooms are being cleaned daily, with every surface being sanitized. “Our maintenance staff is great, they’re being thorough to make sure everything we touch is being cleaned and sanitized daily,” added Fulton.


The first goal, as always, is student safety, but also with an understanding that moving Upward Bound virtually simply would not accomplish the goal.


“A virtual summer program really goes against everything our program stands for, reaching every kid and giving them this opportunity,” added Fulton. “Most colleges have not allowed Upward Bound programs to meet, but most are in areas with full internet access. TWU has been flexible to allow us to do this with the proper precautions in place.”


“The students at Upward Bound are an extension of our students here,” said Dr. Mashburn. “Whether they end up here at Wesleyan ultimately or not, they are part of the TWU Family for this time.”


“It’s really wonderful that Dr. Mashburn and TWU see these students as members of the campus community for a time. It makes it easy for us to bring them here, they feel welcomed,” said Fulton.


“We’re so grateful Wesleyan has handled this so well, allowing us to make this happen for these students, because we know how much it means to them and their families.”