Bryner Dell Scholar 2012Christina Bryner, a senior at Blairsville High School, has been awarded a $20,000 scholarship from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to support education-related expenses in pursuit of a bachelor's degree at IUP.

Dell Scholars receive the monetary award to continue their higher education over the course of six years. In addition, they're provided technology, resources, and mentoring to ensure they have the support they need to obtain a college degree.

Bryner is only one of two Pennsylvania high school students to receive this Dell scholarship. To be eligible, students must demonstrate overcoming significant obstacles to higher education and must be participants in an approved college readiness program.

Bryner has been a four-year participant in the IUP Upward Bound Math and Science program (UBMS), which promotes entry into college for first-generation and low-income high school students through mentoring and other special educational opportunities.

She has completed many honors courses and lettered in academics for three years. She also volunteers as a tutor, as a kindergarten class assistant, and at St. Andrew's Village. She is a three-year competitor in the Family and Consumer Science Heritage Competition, earning the designation of MVP in her senior year.

She's been a member of the National Honor Society, Photography Club, Volunteer into Personal Safety program, Remembering Adam, color guard, and powder-puff football and is editor-in-chief of the yearbook.

“Christina is so deserving of this award, not only because of her excellent grades (she is graduating at the top of her class), but because she is so determined to succeed in college,” said Jacque Benhart, academic counselor for the UBMS program.

IUP is one of only 160 colleges and universities in the United States to receive funding to host a UBMS program. The IUP program serves 50 Indiana County high school students each year by providing academic support services as well as the opportunity to conduct research and earn financial stipends.

Calvin Masilela, professor of Geography and Regional Planning, directs the UBMS program at IUP.

“Our goal is to provide access to deserving students and equip them with requisite skills necessary for academic success in postsecondary education with the ultimate goal of attaining a baccalaureate degree,” Masilela said.

The UBMS program at IUP offers participating students a six-week residential summer program at IUP, where they receive experiential learning experiences in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

UBMS is funded through grant competitions held by the U.S. Department of Education every five years. The IUP grant proposal was developed by co-principal investigators Masilela and Hilary Staples, who currently serves as the assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program, a sister TRIO program to UBMS that focuses on postbaccalaureate studies.