Davis & Elkins College has been full of student activity this summer - but there is a catch. The majority of these students are not even in college, they are taking part in Upward Bound, a fully funded program that allows first-generation college students and low-income families to gain experience with in a college setting before they enter the school of their choice.
Upward Bound is comprised of two divisions of students: those who are still in high school and bridge students, or those who have graduated and are about to enter college.
The bridge students are taking classes taught by professors at Davis & Elkins College like Dr. Bill King and others from the Randolph County area. Setting up residency on campus in Darby Hall, the students are learning about living in a dorm setting.
(CU and The Inter-Mountain/Tillman Ellis)
HISTORY ALIVE — Bridge students fill the Science Center at Davis & Elkins College Tuesday to learn and re-enact the life of J.R. Clifford, the first African American lawyer in West Virginia. Five students act out a court scene where Clifford defended the right of an African American school teacher to be paid equal to and teach for the same amount of time as a white school teacher.
Joining Upward Bound has, according to the students, provided them with an opportunity and experience that was not available for their parents.
"I joined Upward Bound because it gives you the experience of a lifetime," said Cody Frouk Parkins.
Parkins is a Pocahontas County High School graduate who is planning to attend Marshall University in the fall.
"Upward Bound gives you the opportunity to live on a college campus for two weeks. You get to share a room with a total stranger who you really don't know, you share a bathroom with 12 other kids, you get to go to classes and you get to make friends from all over on a college campus," Parkins said.
Bridge students have visited, on average, 10 colleges. Upward Bound has helped them with everything from time management to how to properly apply for college.
"I decided to join Upward Bound because I understood that college was a big adjustment," Philip Barbour High School graduate Daniel Haller said. "Upward Bound has definitely opened my eyes up a lot, so now I know what to expect. They have given us opportunities we would not have otherwise. We have gone to New York City and colleges out of state, I would never have had a chance to do that if it was not for them."
Haller is planning on attending Davis & Elkins College.
Upward Bound offers students the chance to take college courses and prepare for college academically as well as socially.
"One of the reasons I joined was just because they said if I stuck with it long enough I would get to take college classes," said J.D. Mallow, "and knowing that I would be able to get a couple college classes out of the way would allow me to be flexible when I get to college."
Mallow, another PCHS graduate, will be attending D&E this fall.
"I might be able to take one semester a bit easier or it might open up my schedule if I need to take another class," he said.
Bridge students have come to the consensus that without the social and academic advantages that Upward Bound has given them, they would be behind the curve.
One student summed up her experience with Upward Bound in one short sentence: "My family calls the program playing house, but I call it playing college."