photo of Upward Bound students at academic showcase

The MSU Upward Bound program is proud to announce the celebration of its 50th year on MSU’s campus.

The MSU Upward Bound program is proud to announce the celebration of its 50th year on MSU’s campus. 

For the past 50 years, MSU’s Upward Bound program has helped hundreds of high school youth in the Lansing area from low-income families, and/or families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree, to complete high school and enter a post-secondary educational institution. This is accomplished by providing fundamental support and academic instruction in mathematics, laboratory sciences, composition, literature, and foreign languages. Tutoring, counseling, mentoring, career exploration, cultural enrichment, and work-study programs are also offered.

Upward Bound began as an experimental program in the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity in 1964, as a key element of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, enrolling 2,061 participants at 17 programs the following year.  Today, more than 80,000 students participate in 964 Upward Bound programs nationwide.

Students who are the first in their family to attend college greatly benefit from Upward Bound because it helps them understand what higher education is about and to find a path through a college education that will be most beneficial to them in the future.  Upward Bound helps prepare qualified students for a successful college experience when they may not receive that encouragement and guidance from any other source.  Despite many challenges unique to students in a low-income environment, Upward Bound participants are three times more likely to complete a college degree in six years than those who did not participate in college access services, according to the Pell Institute, a non-profit educational research organization.

MSU Upward Bound alumni Amanda (Meeks) Mellenberger, a Lansing Everett High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from MSU, said she believes the biggest impact the program had on her success was the continued involvement during the summer programs.

“We were invited to live on campus for a few weeks and get the feel for college life,” Mellenberger, who currently works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina as a business process consultant, said.  “Additionally, we attended classes that were preparing us for the following school year.  The two summer classes that were most beneficial for me were geometry and American literature.  At the start of my geometry class in the fall, I was already familiar with the concepts, which I believe provided me the drive, as well as an advantage, to succeed.  In the American literature summer class, I was taught a structured format for writing a persuasive theme paper.  That structure facilitated my analytical mind to easily organize my thoughts and ultimately become a better writer.  I truly believe these preparatory classes facilitated me becoming class valedictorian.”

MSU Upward Bound alumni Dr. Taying Yang, a Lansing Everett High School graduate who earned a doctor of Medicine degree from the MSU College of Human Medicine, said the program gave him the opportunity to graduate from the program with life experiences that you cannot learn in a classroom.

“My experience with Upward Bound was key to shaping my interest in both college and in medicine,” Yang, who works as an anesthesiologist at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota, said.  “Upward Bound taught me the importance of being compassionate and really reaching for the stars.  The support and love that the MSU Upward Bound staff gave me as a student was everlasting.  The small things that you learn as a student in the program can easily be overlooked, but the impact is truly lifelong.  Upward Bound taught me as a freshman in high school the significance of being independent and being responsible, which are traits that are key to future success in both college and life.” 

An MSU Upward Bound 50th Anniversary celebration, where both current students and program alumni will gather, will take place on August 20, 2016.

For more information about MSU’s Upward Bound program, visit the MSU Upward Bound website.