Tuculum’s Upward Bound program prepares high school students for the college experience

Upward Bound students perform service work as part of their six weeks in the program.

GREENEVILLE – More than 130 high school students in Northeast Tennessee have expanded their knowledge and immersed themselves in the college experience as participants in a six-week Upward Bound program at Tusculum University.

They have also learned about the value of community service, spending the evenings of Monday, June 17, and Tuesday, June 18, performing hands-on work and activities at locations in Greene and Washington counties for two hours each night.

“Civic engagement has been a Tusculum hallmark throughout our 225-year history, and we are pleased these students have learned more about serving others,” said Jeanne Stokes, director of university’s TRIO programs, which include Upward Bound. “Through their classes, cultural activities and service work, they have become well-rounded individuals and will be ready for college and the work force.”

Upward Bound enrolls students from six Northeast Tennessee counties who meet income guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Education and will be the first person in their families to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

The students lived in a Tusculum residence hall, ate in the cafeteria and attended classes during the week. Morning classes ranged from Tennessee history and Appalachian literature to introduction to photography, microbiology and Turkish language and culture. In the afternoon, they participated in humanities classes – dance, band, art and theater – and exercise.

“The whole point of this program is to simulate the college experience,” Stokes said.

Lance Kessler and Brady Sanders, entering their senior years at North Greene and Chuckey-Doak high schools, respectively, have participated in the Upward Bound math and science program. Lance’s career goal is to become a nuclear physicist, while Brady plans to perform postdoctoral research at a leading campus. Through Upward Bound, Lance was thrilled to find a group that shared his interest in science, and Brady welcomed the opportunity to stay on the Tusculum campus.

“Without that opportunity, I wouldn’t have had any experience to know about anything like living in a dorm or anything similar,” Brady said. “It has prepared me for college.”

In addition to traditional classes, students have learned about different elements of social life, including bullying and proper phone usage. They also saw a performance at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia, and attended dances. They spend several days in New York at the end of their six weeks.

During their two days of service, students participated in activities at Doak Elementary School, Morning Pointe of Greeneville, Crumley House, First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville and other community locations. Hannah McCarter, who is about to enter her senior year at Cosby High School and currently has her eye on the medical profession for her career, said she enjoys community service.

“It’s like giving back to the community,” she said. “It’s not hard to take time out of your day to help someone else, so I like doing it because of that. I’ve been doing community service since I was in elementary school, so I’ve kind of grown up doing stuff like this out of appreciation for it.”