Upward Bound Inspires Success


Ashley Zapata and Priya Atchley

Started in 1986, the TRIO Upward Bound program has served hundreds of students from all grade levels. The University of Montevallo’s TRIO Upward Bound program is a great resource for high school students who are hoping for tutoring, scholarship opportunities, and improving their ACT and SAT scores. We spoke to the director and coordinators of the Upward Bound program to get a little bit more insight into what the TRIO Upward Bound program is. 

Director of the University of Montevallo’s TRIO Upward Bound program, Paul Barnes, said, “The TRIO Upward Bound program is specifically for helping pre-college students in high school who are from low-income families, potentially first-generation college students, or both, preparing them to enter into college with the skills and motivations necessary to complete post-secondary education.” The TRIO Upward Bound program pushes students along to gain their college education.

“I’ve been able to watch a lot of students come through this program and just be a sponge of all the information,” Jamaica Dunigan, the current Academic Coordinator and has been with the program for 12 years. “This program does prepare you in various forms in your everyday life and does prepare you for the real world.”

When asked what the program meant to them personally, Reggie Holifield, alumni of the program and Math and Science coordinator, said, “ TRIO, in general, is just family…I was able to network with a lot of different people and build friendships that have lasted 10 years. It’s a program that enables you to succeed not only academically but also socially and emotionally. I can still reach out to the directors for letters of recommendation or to provide feedback on something…it offers that kind of family connection.” Another response was from another alumnus of the program, Selena Perez, “I would describe the program as beneficial. If you’re looking to receive help with scholarships and improve your ACT score they will help you and make it happen. You need to be willing to put the work in and communicate with those around you to make it happen. But they will be there for you.”

To become a part of the Upward Bound program, you must fill out an application. “We come by to schools and do presentations with everyone–9th-grade class usually– and present them what Upward Bound is, what it does, and give out applications. We leave extra applications in the counselor’s office and online. Once we collect an application, it needs a counselor’s or teacher’s recommendation. The counselor will attach transcripts and testing information. I’ll take a look to see if the family is low-income, first-generation, or both. We’ll set a date to do interviews and send a letter to the parents and students. Pre-COVID, we used to host interviews on-campus…if the student doesn’t come to the interview, that’s the end of the application.”

The program is made up of two parts: the academic year and the summer component. During the academic year, you go one day (either a Monday or Tuesday) every two weeks. During this time, you get classes and time to ask tutors for help on homework. During the summer, there is a set schedule for the day with academic courses usually dependent on your academic schedule for the new year and fun activities. At the end of the summer component, you get to go on a fun trip out of state.

We interviewed some participating students of the Upward Bound program. According to Quavis Chism, a Junior at Calera High and a first-year in the program, “the Upward Bound Program is a program that prepares you for the future”. The Upward Bound Program helped Quavis communicate more. Quavis heard about the program from his parents and the application process wasn’t hard at all. Quavis participated in the Trio Summer component and said “it was fun and I learned something new in the program.”

Overall, the TRIO Upward Bound program is a great resource for students who are hoping to get into college and get the much-needed academic help they need.

 “It can change destinies.” – Paul Barnes