ATU Upward Bound Students Begin Summer Program

Za'Mara Walls at ATU Upward Bound Summer Program June 2024
Arkansas Tech University Upward Bound program participant Za'Mara Walls of Dardanelle spent her study hall hour on Wednesday, June 5, working in a computer lab at Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center.

Approximately 100 high school students from the Arkansas River Valley are participating in the 2024 Arkansas Tech University Upward Bound residential summer program on the Russellville campus.

Students reported to ATU on June 2 and will remain on campus for one month. During that time, they will study English, math, science and a wide variety of electives such as virtual reality, human geography, physical education, robotics and theatre. One group of computer science students is designing a virtual escape room.

“Our main goal is to help them feel comfortable on a college campus,” said Jill Hendricks, who has overseen the ATU Upward Bound programs for 19 years. “A lot of times first-generation, low-income students get overwhelmed when they come to college, and that’s one of the reasons they drop out. I hope they see the Upward Bound summer program as life-changing. I hope they are encouraged to excel in high school and go to college.”

The Upward Bound classic program at ATU serves students from the public high schools in Atkins, Dover, Hector, Johnson County Westside and Lamar. ATU’s Upward Bound math and science program is for public high school students from Danville, Dardanelle, Two Rivers, Western Yell County and Wonderview. Each of those districts are represented among the approximately 100 students participating in the ATU Upward Bound summer program.

Hendricks is joined on the ATU Upward Bound staff by target school liaisons Shawna Davis, Annie McNeely and Lauren Pipkin.

During the school year, representatives from ATU go into partner high schools to provide academic support for Upward Bound program participants.

Participants in the federally-funded initiatives are exposed to a variety of resources and experiences designed to prepare them for college enrollment and success. Students selected for Upward Bound must meet income guidelines as set by the federal government and/or be a potential first-generation college student.

Following the conclusion of the on-campus summer program, the top 15 students from the ATU Upward Bound classic program and the top 15 students from the ATU Upward Bound math and science program will visit Chicago, Ill., for additional learning and cultural immersion.

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