A hand up to collegeDayelle Davis was convinced she didn’t stand a chance to get into a competitive program for college bound kids that accepts only 50 students. In fact, the Superior High School sophomore was so convinced she got her application in late. Still, she got a chance to interview.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Dayelle Davis was convinced she didn’t stand a chance to get into a competitive program for college bound kids that accepts only 50 students.
In fact, the Superior High School sophomore was so convinced she got her application in late. Still, she got a chance to interview.
“They accepted me on the spot so that was a big confidence booster,” Davis said. “So I joined. I came to my summer program. I didn’t know anyone in the program and it was the best time ever.”
Davis is among 50 students – first generation college-bound – taking advantage of a federally funded program designed to prepare them for the rigors of college, Upward Bound.
The program is helping her pave a path to her aspirations to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she plans to major in psychology then onto medical school. Her aspiration: Become a psychiatrist.
Upward Bound is designed for first generation students who have the potential for going to college, even though their parents never did. The program is designed to help students succeed first in high school, then in college, said Angie Hugdahl, who runs the program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
The program consists of three components including a Thursday night study group where students can get tutoring help and socialize with their peers. Then, students meet one Saturday each month for community service or a workshop designed toward student success, such as study skills and time management. The Saturday sessions typically include an element of fun so it’s not all work, Hugdahl said.
“We’ll take them tubing or to an Omnimax movie or something,” Hugdahl said.
The third element is a six-week commitment in the summer where students live on campus and take classes designed to help them succeed in high school for four weeks. During the six-week session, students spend one week at a science camp and one week on a summer trip.
Erika Benedickt, a senior at Superior High School, said she spent her weeklong trip in Washington D.C. attending the Leadership Congress. During the trip, she said she had the opportunity to go to lobby on Capitol Hill and talk to U.S. Rep. Dave Obey’s education staff.
“We did a mock Congress,” Benedickt said. “We broke off into groups; we got a topic and we had to research that topic and draft a bill on that topic.”
A senior of the program with aspirations to go to Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Benedickt said Upward Bound has helped her come out of her shell and become a leader. After she graduates next spring, she plans to major in political science in college before moving on to law school. She said the program has given her hopes and dreams.
“That’s what everyone wants – the American dream,” Benedickt said.
Halee Kirkwood said she’d heard about a trip that inspired her to apply for the program initially. A senior in the program and at Superior High School, she said the program has given her everything from study skills to self-discipline.
“It’s awesome,” Kirkwood said.
But the program is about more than hope and dreams for Superior High School sophomore Anthony Valentine, who learned about the program because his sister participated in it.
“More than just hope, I gained goals I set to go to college and go past college,” Valentine said. He said while he’s certain he wants to be famous sports athlete, he’s still exploring what he wants to do when he gets to college.
He said the program has helped him outside of school as well, as in learning how to work with people.
“It helps with the financial and the mental,” Valentine said. “At first, I though it was just a game, me and my friends, but then my friends got kicked out of school because they were playing around too much. I started seeing this program could really help me. It’s changed my attitude towards working.”
In addition to students’ costs being covered by the federal grant, students can take college aptitude tests at no cost, and their efforts in the program are recognized by universities where they may apply. Participants do have to meet income guidelines determined by the U.S. Department of Education.
The program at UWS boasts a 100 percent high school graduation rate for participants, and a 72 percent rate of students either attending college presently or graduating from college.
“We do have high expectations from the students,” Hugdahl said. To stay in the program, students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and are required to attend the weekly study sessions and monthly activities during the school year. They must also follow all rules and policies of the Upward Bound program.
“It showed me that whatever you put into the program is what you get out of it,” said Peri Kemp, a sophomore at Superior High School. “It can actually do a lot of good things for you.”
Kemp hopes to study psychology and art history when she goes to college.
“In this program, you know you’re never alone because everyone here is like one big family,” Kemp said.
“No matter what I do, I have the support of 52 people behind me,” Davis said, including program staff in the count. “We’re the biggest family ever. It’s pretty cool.”
For more information, call (715) 394-8085 or visit www.uwsuper.edu/ub.