Students Benefit from Upward Bound Grant Renewal

High school students from Calumet, El Reno, Geary, Hinton, Minco and Union City will continue to receive free educational support from the Redlands Community College Upward Bound program with the renewal of the program’s federal grant funding for an additional five years.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, totals approximately $1.7 million to continue the program.

“We are very pleased that our Upward Bound program has been renewed for another five-year period,” said Redlands President Jack Bryant. “For over 35 years, Redlands has had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these very-deserving students, and, now, we look forward to continuing that effort.”

Hailey McBroom, a recent El Reno High School graduate, praised the staff of Upward Bound for preparing her for high school courses and challenging her to step outside of her comfort zone.

“When I heard about Upward Bound in the eighth grade, I realized it would really help me prepare for college,” McBroom said. “The program has helped me navigate high school classes, concurrent courses and applying for college.”

McBroom, who took advantage of the concurrent enrollment program while she was a high school junior and senior, will earn an associate degree in psychology from Redlands after the Fall semester. In the Spring, she will transfer to the University of Oklahoma to pursue a bachelor’s degree in physics before attending medical school to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Upward Bound has been offered through Redlands since 1986, making it one of the longest-running grants on campus. Each year, 64 income-qualifying high school students, who are also first-generation, college-bound students, are served in the program. Upward Bound offers college preparatory help and skills training for them to complete high school, enroll in college and complete an associate degree or bachelor’s degree. Students receive instruction in math, science, English, foreign language, art, physical science and financial literacy.

In addition, they participate in educational seminars on a wide range of topics. Students also receive tutoring at their high schools once a week during the academic year, tour colleges and universities throughout the state, aid in community service projects and attend student-success seminars on interviewing skills, resume writing, etiquette, leadership and more.

Valeze Law-Vaughn, a 2020 El Reno High School graduate, returned to the program this summer as a tutor.

“My time in the program was amazing. It gave me a chance to make a smoother transition from high school to college,” Law-Vaughn said. “I loved my Upward Bound tutors, so I’m excited to be able to give back and help the current students. My tutors were so encouraging, and they taught me where to look for scholarships and how to apply for them.”

Law-Vaughn just completed her sophomore year at Oklahoma State University, studying nutritional science before entering medical school to become an anesthesiologist.

Most students begin the program following eighth or ninth grade and remain in it until their high school graduation.

“Our desire is to help students develop the necessary skills to be successful in college and in life,” said Redlands Upward Bound Program Director Kacey Daniels. “It is an honor to work with the students, and it is a privilege to get to know them and their families. These are great students who have big goals in life, and it is incredibly rewarding to help them achieve those goals.”