Building Partnerships to Expand Access
Last summer, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Randall spoke with a group of high school students with whom she has a unique connection. The students were all part of Upward Bound—most will be the first in their families to attend college—while Randall is an Upward Bound alum and a role model for who these kids can be and what they can achieve. The meeting, observed Bridget Hynes, the assistant director of UMass Upward Bound, allowed the students see UMass and the College of Education as a place where they belong. “Her story inspired the students, and helped them see what they could look like in the future.”
The College of Education and Upward Bound enjoy a partnership where our faculty and students are able to support the program while expanding their opportunities for research and teaching experience. In the words of Hynes, the College of Education has “long been a fan and supporter of Upward Bound,” contributing academic expertise, time, energy, and physical space.
Upward Bound began nationally with the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which was a response to the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty. The UMass Amherst program was one of the very first, and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary with an alumni reunion.
The College of Education has supported Upward Bound in a variety of ways, including physical—last summer they were able to run the complete summer program in Furcolo Hall for the first time, using our classrooms, computer labs, and gathering spaces.
It allows them to formulate their ideas, build curriculum, and think about ‘what do these inputs that I’m proposing look like, on the ground, when I’m trying to use them with a group of youth.'Bridget Hynes
“It gives them some experience with the same youth that they’re researching and thinking about,” Haynes notes. “It allows them to formulate their ideas, build curriculum, and think about ‘what do these inputs that I’m proposing look like, on the ground, when I’m trying to use them with a group of youth.’”
Upward Bound hires undergraduates from all of the disciplines on campus, recruiting many through Civic Engagement & Service Learning and Student Bridges. The UMass students are also a very diverse group, with many students of color, which helps the young people in the program imagine themselves as successful college students as well.
Hynes notes that many of the undergraduates who work for them come to the program planning careers outside education, but leave planning to become teachers. These include a former tutor mentor, Moijue Kaikai, now a Ph.D. Candidate in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, who received a STEM grant to help with a solar project at Sci Tech in Springfield, and Khalif Nunnaly-Rivera, who works to prevent chronic truancy at Sci Tech. Not only is the program helping youth prepare to succeed in college, they’re helping create the next generation of teachers.
“I just find it’s a wonderful experience to watch that change,” says Hynes, to see them embrace the mission of educational access and educational advancement. “Being in with the young people and being in the program helped them articulate some of the things that were important to them in their lives and find a career that has meaning and purpose for them.”