Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) launched its Upward Bound (UB) summer program for Upward Bound students from Wilby, Crosby, and Kennedy High Schools. This highly engaging, six-week hybrid summer program will serve 45 students in grades 9-12. Using a project-based academic enrichment curriculum centered on the theme of the American Portrait and Self-Identity, students will participate in cultural field trips, a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Project, wellness activities, and service-learning projects. Students will receive materials/supplies for all academic, cultural, and student engagement activities and assignments. Working with the United Way of Greater Waterbury’s Upstarter Program, the summer curriculum will also challenge students to design and implement a service-learning project.
Tim Magee, Program Director and NVCC Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, kicked off the Upward Bound program by sharing his own story and asking students to consider the importance of people, purpose, and place. He continued, “As you engage with each other over these next six weeks you will be involved with academic work, field trips, storytelling, and listening to each other’s stories. Your sense of purpose will help you get through. You will use grit…which is perseverance in the pursuit of one’s purpose. Your own story is continually being written; use this opportunity to learn more and move onward and upward.”
NVCC Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Dresdner, Ph.D. welcomed the students to campus and shared, “Our students are our finest assets and most sacred trust. We open our arms and embrace who you are and whom you wish to become. Our school leaders who are working with you are here to give you guidance. I can’t wait to hear all about your own stories that you create through this experience.”
Elaborating on the program theme of self-identity, Katherine Jeronimo-Luis, Site Coordinator-Upward Bound Math Science, explained how that theme offers students the opportunity to reflect on the difficult past year and their plans for post-secondary education. She noted, “Students will be working on academic projects that connect to our program theme in the subjects of STEM, English, and Foreign Language and will present on the final day of programming in a celebration of learning."
Despite the significant challenges brought by this pandemic, the Upward Bound staff has provided meaningful opportunities for the students in a hybrid platform. Kamara Hall, Site Coordinator-Upward Bound, Kennedy High School described how the focus on storytelling, purpose, identity, and project-based learning activities will enrich the students’ lives and make this a summer they will always remember. She further noted, “These experiences yield complex and diverse stories of what brings us together and what keeps us apart as we strive to understand one another."
All virtual components, including classes, projects, and community meetings are scheduled from 10 AM to 12:30 PM each day. Program components include the following:
· English, Math, Spanish, and STEM classes once a week, along with an academic project connecting to the theme of American Portrait and Self-Identity. As active participants in a community service project with United Way Upstarters, students will design and implement their own community service project.
· Additional activities range from on-campus events, tours, and exciting field trips. COVID-safe practices will be practiced at each in-person event.
· Students are also eligible to earn a $150 stipend for their participation in the summer program. The stipends will be given out at the end of summer upon completion.
Upward Bound (UB) is a highly successful college-based program of rigorous academic instruction, individual tutoring, and counseling for low-income, disadvantaged high school students, many of whom will be first generation college students. Funded through the Federal TRiO grant, the program is designed to engage students in an intensive academic study program with an emphasis on English, mathematics, science, foreign language, and global citizenship.