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Upward Bound program for local high schools students celebrates its first year

Cynthia Copney, director of TRiO/Student Support Services, (l.) and Evora Baker, assistant director of Upward Bound, pose in the Scarborough Library with Upward Bound students from Berkeley County high schools who took classes on Shepherd’s campus this summer.

Shepherd University capped off its first year offering the TRiO Upward Bound program to Berkeley County high school students with an End of Year Celebration on July 26, naming Martinsburg High School senior Kelsea Anderson as the year’s outstanding student.

President Mary J.C. Hendrix welcomed the students, their families, and representatives from Berkeley County Schools. Dr. Jason Best, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and director of Shepherd’s strategic research initiatives, gave the keynote address.

In 2017, Shepherd received a $1.2 million five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to operate the TRiO Upward Bound program in Berkeley County high schools. Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, the program provided academic and college preparation support to 42 students from Musselman, Hedgesville, Martinsburg, and Spring Mills high schools whose parents did not attend college. The students spent six weeks this summer attending classes at Shepherd and earning half an elective high school credit.

“The classes are designed to prepare students for the classes they will take in the fall semester,” said Cynthia Copney, director of TRiO/Student Support Services. “They took English literature, math, science, French, and wellness classes.”

The Upward Bound summer program included a two-week stay in a campus residence hall.

“This gives the students an opportunity to see what it’s like to be on a college campus,” said Evora Baker, assistant director of Upward Bound. “It makes the process a little less intimidating. They’ll go into college knowing what the processes are.”

Upward Bound provides support to students throughout the school year. When they graduate from high school, they should be enrolled in and have a financial aid package to the college of their choice. After graduating high school, they will also be able to participate in the summer bridge program at Shepherd, where they will take a free, transferable college course and receive help with the college enrollment process.

“Once these students have the opportunity to graduate from high school, go on to college, and graduate from college, they will forever break the cycle in their family of not going on to college,” Copney said. “That’s the magic. They prove to their family members that it can be done, so they set up a culture of everyone in the family graduating from high school and going on to graduate from college.”