Nearly 80 area high school students will spend five weeks of their summer vacation in SUNY Canton’s Upward Bound program. For two returning participants, the program has changed their lives.
Upward Bound, a federally-funded TRiO program, is designed to help first generation, low-income or at-risk high school students obtain the skills needed to earn a college degree. The five-week experience allows participants a chance to experience and acclimate to college life by taking classes, engaging in various educational extracurricular activities and living on-campus in the residence halls.
Kaleb D. Morrow-Simmons, Huevelton, and April A. VanOrman, Gouverneur, are spending their third and fourth summers, respectively, with Upward Bound at SUNY Canton. Both credit the program with providing them the guidance, direction and faith needed to become successful students and people.
“Upward Bound helped me realize my potential and aspire to become something great,” VanOrman said. “It has been a gateway for my future. It has been my savior.”
A music lover, VanOrman dreams of one day being an editor of a newspaper, magazine or publishing company. She is a music enthusiast and is a section leader in Gouverneur’s marching band, participates in jazz band and helps elementary school band members.
When Morrow-Simmons first attended Upward Bound, he admittedly was disinterested in school and learning. Upward Bound helped him mature and understand it was up to him to make the most of his education. When he isn’t studying, he volunteers at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, is a member of the Seaway Valley Screaming Eagles rocket team that competed at nationals this year, and tutors fifth graders during study halls.
“I always knew I wanted to go to college and that it would take a lot of hard work, but I didn’t know how to get myself there until I came to Upward Bound,” he said.
The rising junior can’t decide between pursuing a career in the medical field or embracing his entrepreneurial side. Students in this year’s program will get a chance to hear about his business ideas in a seminar he is teaching with Upward Bound Instructional Director Hillary E. Wolfe.
“Each summer, I have the privilege of working with 80 students like Kaleb and April and witness a transformation within each of them,” Wolfe said. “It’s amazing how much they learn about themselves and their own abilities. By the end of the program, they understand that a successful future is both possible and inevitable because they are capable of achieving their dreams.”
High school students from Massena, Salmon River, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Gouverneur, Huevelton, Clifton-Fine, Parishville-Hopkinton, Canton, and Norwood-Norfolk take part in the program. Wolfe noted the program’s popularity has skyrocketed recently with a growing number of students placed on the waiting list each year.
VanOrman, Morrow-Simmons, and the other students will attend math, science, language, history and art-related classes each day. Special topic seminars such as ‘Life Skills Financial Tricks,’ environmental sustainability, people who have changed the world, learning to argue with style, social media, Business 101 for Entrepreneurs, social and professional networking and dining etiquette and elective classes will also be offered. All courses are taught by a number of SUNY Canton faculty and staff members as well as a few local educators.
Participants also enjoy a variety hour which includes watching foreign films, completing art projects, playing sports, visiting the public library, and volunteering. Other highlights include a social dance that was held on Thursday, July 7, the Wacky Olympics on Friday, July 15, an open house and family barbecue on Wednesday, July 27 and an awards dinner on Tuesday, August 2.
The program will conclude Friday, August 5 following a three-day trip to Boston for a whale watch excursion.