SIUE Upward Bound Closes its Summer Program with Acts of Service and Awards

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Students and staffThe last day of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center Upward Bound (UB) EC/BEM summer program was fun, enlightening, and packed with a video game demonstration, a successful blood drive, a step show and a luncheon awards ceremony. 

“We wanted to plan a day that would showcase our students’ talents, give them an opportunity for community service, acknowledge the hard work they’ve done, and have fun and fellowship with students and parents,” said Keith Ware, EdD, UB program director. 

Lewis and SmithUB is a federally funded college preparatory program for students at the following high schools: East St. Louis and Cahokia (EC), Brooklyn, SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School and Madison (BEM). 

One of the areas of study that students enjoyed the most this summer was science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), according to Akiya Perry, UB science tutor/counselor. UB students displayed their STEM skills with the various video games they created, designed and demonstrated. 

Another STEM-related subject that students studied was blood and how it is processed for storage, noted Perry. 

“Students in my community service project class were talking about what we could do as a student body to reach the community,” she continued. “We began talking about the components of a blood drive as a way to connect the community with science. They thought it would be good to host a blood drive.” 

“At first I was skeptical about donating blood,” said 16-year-old UB student Shakirah Robertson, who donated blood. “But then we learned about the process. We got to visit the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, see how blood is separated and stored, and how it can help save people.” 

UB students decided to host a blood drive on the East St. Louis campus conducted by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, and set a goal of collecting 20 units of blood.

Blood Drive“We collected 27 units of blood,” exclaimed Perry, blood drive coordinator. “Mississippi Valley Regional Center representatives said it was amazing that we collected so much our first time and for us being in a predominantly African American area.” 

“The blood drive had more participants from the community than was expected,” added Ware, “because of the due diligence of Ms. Perry and her class canvassing the community.” 

UB is an incredible program, offered Nykia Lewis, of East St. Louis and parent of UB student Nore Smith. Lewis was one of many parents who attended the luncheon awards. Her daughter, a junior at East St. Louis Senior High School with a 3.8 GPA, received awards for Best in Class and Participation. 

“UB is a program that all students should participate in,” commented Lewis. “Nore has been a part of Upward Bound since the ninth grade, and she goes year-round. Upward Bound affords opportunities that parents like myself cannot provide, and the staff is amazing.” 

Smith, along with a group of UB students and staff, left on Sunday, July 21 on a college and exploratory trip to Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.  They return Friday, July 25. 

“Upward Bound is a great program, and they treat everybody equally. It is like a family,” said Smith. “We get a chance to know one another, and we look up to the staff like members of our family.” 

Other categories for the honors ceremony included participation, leadership and the Director’s Award. Only one student received the Director’s Award, Tyrese Mosley, of Cahokia. Mosley was selected for being a stellar example of an Upward Bound student, according to Perry. 

The SIUE Upward Bound EC/BEM program helps youth prepare for higher education and serves students from East St. Louis and Cahokia (EC), and Brooklyn, East St. Louis Charter and Madison (BEM), High Schools. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition and STEM subjects on college campuses after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. The quality services provided will prepare the students for successful high school completion and entrance into post-secondary programs. Upward Bound is a college-preparatory program designed to serve low-income and/or potential first-generation college students who are currently in grades 9-12. 

Smiling for their recent accomplishments are SIUE Upward Bound students (L-R front row) Trista Mazyun, Wykila Little and Ta’Korie Carter. UB staff offering support are (L-R back row) Victoria Valle, Gary Traylor, Chris Cooper and Jay Hubert. 

Nykia Lewis, of East St. Louis, (right) applauds the UB program for its tremendous work with students. Pictured also is her daughter, Nore Smith. 

Akiya Perry, UB science tutor/counselor, (center) helped coordinated the program’s first blood drive with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center staff.