(Source: Holly Bowen Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho (MCT) — The sacrifice of a relaxing summer at home is a small price to pay for 23 high school students from north-central Idaho who are getting a head start at college this month thanks to Bridge Idaho Upward Bound at the University of Idaho.
An all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., New York and other East Coast cities doesn’t hurt, either.
The students from Lapwai, Orofino, Kamiah and Kooskia have been staying in dorm rooms on the UI campus since early this month and are learning about college life, financial responsibility, social justice issues, world cultures and literature. The final portion of the program, which begins next week and ends Aug. 6, has been set aside for students to travel to the East Coast to tour various universities in addition to historical sites and government facilities.
The program is an opportunity for mostly low-income students – many of whom could be the first in their families to eventually graduate from college – to experience academia and cultural diversity outside of their rural hometowns.
Participating students apply for the program as high school freshmen or sophomores, provide recommendations from teachers or counselors and then complete an interview process, said Stacey Smith, program coordinator.
Students in this summer’s program are completing a dual-credit college course – introduction to literary genres – in addition to the Financial Literacy Curriculum offered by the FDIC.
“They went over saving for college, budgeting – all basic banking principles,” Smith said. “So, when they graduate, they have all of that.”
They are also working with mentors – former Upward Bound participants – who are sharing their various academic interests with their younger counterparts.
That’s part of what they’ve been doing during the past two weeks, and now they’re preparing to spend the rest of July and first part of August learning about college and cultural life outside the Northwest.
Smith said the entire program embraces the University of California-Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute’s Five Core Constructs for College Success.
“Of the five, only one is academic,” she said. “The rest are social- and self-concepts. All of those have to do with living in a diverse society and being able to adapt to wherever you are. Travel takes it to the next level for (the students).”
Smith said about 50 percent of Upward Bound alumni end up enrolling at the UI, and most of the rest choose other colleges and universities around the country. She said about 94 percent of participants go onto some form of higher education.
The students have so far visited the UI, North Idaho College and Gonzaga University and on the East Coast will spend time at New York University, George Washington University and the University of Virginia.
“We don’t stay in hotels or anything – it’s all college-oriented,” Smith said.
Charlene Hunter, a Harpster resident and senior at Clearwater Valley High School in Kooskia, is participating for the second summer in a row and said the travel is definitely a highlight of the program.
“There’s so much more than in my small town,” she said, mentioning the diversity of restaurants on the East Coast. “… We have a small Chinese place and a deli, but you can eat Turkish food in D.C.”
But, like most of the students, Hunter said she joined Upward Bound to help her get into college after high school. She said she hopes to attend the UI or Eastern Oregon University.
Wyatt Calkins, a senior from Lapwai, is also in his second summer of Upward Bound. He said he joined at the recommendation of his high school adviser, and now he’s thinking about studying physical therapy or kinesthesiology in college.
He said his interest in those subjects “sort of developed over time. Upward Bound opened my eyes to what college really offered.”
It can be challenging to recruit students who are willing to give up their summer vacations in order to complete a college-level course and other activities in just a month’s time, said Ryan Bender, an Upward Bound outreach coordinator for Orofino and the Clearwater Valley.
“It’s definitely a challenge to convince them to get up at 7 in the morning and sit in classes all day,” he said, adding that many students are used to spending hot days floating in the river or hanging out with friends. “It’s fun to open their eyes and show them there’s so much more than what’s in their hometowns.”
Lapwai juniors Jonae Scabbyrobe and Lydia Skahan, both Upward Bound newcomers, said they were a little homesick at first but acknowledged their families were still close enough to visit them in Moscow. But the trip east will be a different experience.
While Scabbyrobe said her favorite aspect of the program so far was a rafting trip at Riggins, Skahan said she enjoyed the engineering class that students were immersed in Thursday morning. They built rockets they planned to launch later in the day.
“It’s fun,” Scabbyrobe said of Upward Bound. “I would encourage a lot of kids to do it.”
“It’s a big opportunity for anybody,” Skahan added.
Opportunity was the key word for Ian Barrett, a senior from Orofino who is also in his first year of the program.
“I thought it would be a really good opportunity to help me get into college,” he said. “It has fulfilled (those expectations) and more. It has opened my eyes to a lot more I can do in life than just staying in Orofino.”
Although the U.S. Department of Education is providing more than $400,000 for Bridge Idaho Upward Bound this year, the program is also being facilitated by multiple offices, organizations and grants, including the Associated Students of the UI Student Engagement Office, UI Career Center, UI Student Financial Aid Services, NASA Idaho Space Grant, Idaho College Access Challenge Grant and the Alliance for Low-Income Students.
Holly Bowen can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 239, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @DailyNewsHolly
©2012 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)
Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services