On May 1, 2015, IUP President Michael Driscoll, Vice President for Administration and Finance Cornelius Wooten, Assistant Vice Provost Michele Norwood, Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Yaw Asamoah, Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean Deanne Snavely, and a few faculty members joined the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) faculty and students to celebrate College Signing Day, which included a photo shoot to announce graduating seniors’ plans to attend college.
The day is part of President and Michelle Obama’s “Reach Higher” initiative. According to the White House, “The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.”
According to Calvin Masilela, program director of the UBMS program at IUP, “This year, the UBMS program is graduating 19 seniors from several county high schools. All graduating seniors have been accepted into college, and of them, eight have chosen to attend IUP for their postsecondary education. The remaining students have been accepted to institutions such as Penn State, Saint Vincent, Pitt, Findlay University, etc. We couldn’t be more thrilled for their success.”
The photo shoot was posted to social media #ReachHigher, joining thousands of other students and student groups sharing “selfies” and “ussies” displaying their college choice gear as they embark on their collegiate journeys. IUP UBMS staff posted 20 tweets, of which five were favorited by the White House Reach Higher staff.
The Upward Bound Math and Science program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education to prepare potentially first-generation and income-disadvantaged high school students from Indiana County for college, particularly in areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. The program is funded under a federal grant co-authored by Masilela and Hilary Staples. Masilela works with co-UBMS faculty members Connie Kugel, math and science coordinator, and Jacque Benhart, academic counselor, making up the core UBMS staff.
IUP faculty members in biology and physics and high school teachers provide science application camps and instruction during the six-week summer program where UBMS participants stay on campus and are exposed to various educational and cultural enrichment opportunities.
Since its inception in 2008, the IUP Upward Bound Math and Science program has served over 140 local high school students. Seventy percent of UBMS participants have persisted in higher education. Although any Indiana County high school student who meets eligibility criteria can apply to the UBMS program, the program is closely partnered with Homer Center, Marion Center, Penns Manor, Purchase Line, and United high schools.