UNI Upward Bound Works Toward Strong Year-End and Plans for Summer Programs - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

UNI Upward Bound Works Toward Strong Year-End and Plans for Summer Programs


The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Classic Upward Bound (CUB) program is not allowing the cold temperatures to freeze our progress towards the end of the year and the beginning of our summer program. Our students are in the throes of preparing for finals and the CUB staff are beginning preparations for our six week summer program. As always, the year has been a challenge for our students but they have succeeded in overcoming the adverse situations life throws their way.

Students are actively engaging in after-school tutoring sessions at Waterloo East and West High schools and evening tutoring at our home base, the UNI Center for Urban Education (UNI-CUE). These tutoring sessions are in conjunction with the UNI Educational Talent Search (ETS) program which is a sister TRIO program to our CUB TRIO program. As is important with any organization working together, we partner with ETS staff to facilitate this program as well as the Waterloo Community School District (WCSD). We have continued good relationships with administrative and teaching staff which has allowed us to continue the tradition of having tutoring at East and West High Schools. These tutorials will continue until late April and many students will continue tutoring in a one-on-one environment after UNI students have their finals.

One of the greatest academic challenges our students face is their enrollment in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program or their preparation for enrollment into the IB program. The IB program is one of the most rigorous academic course loads a high school student can take. It is a pre-college, interdisciplinary program designed to be student directed learning and to have students understand the process of finding a solution to a posed problem rather than just finding a solution. The IB program is currently only being offered at the Des Moines Public Schools and Waterloo Community Schools. Enrolment in the IB program forces students to think critically and creatively in order to understand that some solutions have multiple processes to get there. Students engage in two years of rigorous coursework and it all culminates into one final test to receive their IB diplomas. Our students are engaged and passionate about their enrollment in the IB program and will continue to challenge themselves to understand that the challenge will reap great rewards in the end. It will allow them to enter almost any post-secondary institution they qualify for and shows colleges, universities, and future employers that CUB IB students are the gold-standard for success.

CUB program scholars also continue to be engaged in our FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team. This unique opportunity allows our CUB scholars to put what they are learning in their science and math classes into practice. This opportunity is funded by John Deere who also funds our summer classroom on the road trip and our summer bridge program. Our continued partnership with ETS students makes our team one of the most diverse FTC teams in the state of Iowa. With this diversity comes a greater wealth of ideas and viewpoints that are welcomed, analyzed, and implemented in the design and construction of the robot.




























FTC matches have changed some over the last two years moving from a conventional regional competition to league based play. League play allows us to compete against teams more within the Waterloo/Black Hawk County area rather than teams from the region of Northeast Iowa. This allows for more of a grass roots competition style and allows for the teams to compete more frequently together. Our last competition will be on January 16, 2016 in LaPorte City which will determine if we move onto the state competition in Iowa City. With the hours of problem solving, construction, programming, and outreach our scholars, with help from gracious John Deere employee mentors who devote hours to aiding our scholars along the process of having a functioning robot, it is nice to have continued support from the community at these competitions. Team 5445 graciously invites you to participate in supporting all FTC teams at competitions as well as having readers become mentors or coaches for FTC teams.

Every year with the bone chilling winters comes preparation and excitement for days on-campus basking in the hot summer sun. The CUB program is beginning to make preparations for our six week long summer residential program hosted on UNI’s beautiful campus. This year we are looking to begin our summer program the second week in June and completing in mid-July. During this time our scholars will take courses they will take next year in high school (2016-2017). These summer courses are designed not to cover the entirety of the coursework our students will face during the academic year but instead to give them foundational principles necessary to be successful in their academic year classes. There are a few advantages to our students during the summer program in regards to their classwork. One of these advantages is that we, the CUB permanent staff, instruct our teachers to teach in a way that allows our students to understand the construct and content of each class. We develop our curriculum to reach our students where they are in their development of skills. Another benefit for our scholars is our rigidity of following rules and regulations. While students may find objection to the rules, such as not having a cell phone on their person throughout the day, they are designed to allow the students opportunities to not be distracted during class and to keep the students as safe as possible while on campus. Finally, after a long day of academic coursework, students can engage in supplemental instruction at night with a qualified and trained tutor or their instructors from their classes or scholars can engage in numerous recreational options provided by the UNI Wellness and Recreation Services Center. The summer program is not only an academic program designed to push our students to achieve academic greatness, but scholars really get the sense of belonging to a community that accepts them for who they are and they will make life-long friendships because of it.

Following our summer program our scholars take their learning on the road. Our classroom on the road program is a three day, two night learning adventure where we take our scholars to a different state than Iowa. This allows them to gain experiences in a different environment than what they are used to. Our scholars, being low-income and first-generation potential college students, may have never been afforded the opportunity to stay at a five star hotel or eat at five star restaurants. Some have never left their hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. This experience allows them to have a taste of what their hard work at school and graduating college could allow them to do with their families. We do not stay at one place very long but rather use this opportunity as a way to expose our scholars to many different experiences. Last year we went to St. Louis and visited the Arch, the Bissell-Mansion Dinner Theatre, and the St. Louis Zoo and Science Center among other popular destinations in St. Louis. Where we are going this year, only time will tell but it is guaranteed to be engaging, fun, and impactful.

Our graduating seniors will continue to have the option to bridge during the summer. The summer bridge program is designed to allow our graduating seniors the option to engage in summer college courses for college credit. These classes are considered Liberal Arts Core classes and are generally easily transferable to other colleges and universities besides UNI. Our graduated seniors are considered college freshmen during the summer bridge program and are treated as such by university officials. They live in separate dorm facilities than our regular CUB students and do not have to follow as stringent of rules as our regular CUB students. They are held to high academic outcomes and understand that they are not only representing themselves but the legacy of the CUB program. The graduating seniors always do a fantastic job and learn not only classroom content but how to work with fellow students, Student Support Services staff (a TRIO program that serves low-income and/or first-generation college students on college campuses), and their professors which is key to any student’s success on-campus.

This last year also brought a season of change for the CUB program. We had two individuals pass away that worked closely with our scholars. Natalie Sugira, our Academic Coordinator, passed away in February which came as a blow to our scholars and staff. Natalie’s passion for student success and achievement has not been lost but continues to thrive in everything our students do. Dr. John Baskerville, a champion for our program who also taught African American History and Culture to our students during the summer, also passed away. Natalie and John both fought for inclusion on-campus, bringing in more diversity, and were two symbols of hope for our scholars. Their presence has been missed but not forgotten. After a lengthy search process we brought on Ms. Jessica Eilbert as our new Academic Coordinator. Jessica, Jessie for short, began working for the CUB program in October 2015 and has already made crucial impacts on our scholars, staff, and the UNI-CUE environment. We are looking forward to her contributions to the program in her time with us.

With these changes, our scholars continue to learn and grow into young adulthood. We, as the CUB program, are not able to provide the services we do without funding. We are grateful for our sponsors the University of Northern Iowa, John Deere, and the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa. These entities provide us numerous services for our students. From our robotics team, to scholarships, to emergency funds for students facing economic emergencies, every sponsor has played a crucial part in our success in providing our students the chance to realize their dreams of going to and graduating from college. TRIO program funding is constantly under attack. With your support, we can make sure that equal access to higher education is possible by mailing, emailing, and/or calling state representatives to tell them to continue to fight for funding for TRIO programs. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to break the cycle of poverty for America’s youth. With your support of TRIO programs we will continue to see the success of individuals that will be game changers in major industries. In a TRIO participant may lie the cure for cancer, the next Nobel Prize winner, or the next great entrepreneur. Whatever great accomplishments may be on their CV it is the help of TRIO programs that tapped into these students’ potential and that looked at them as possibilities, not deficits. With your help we can continue to inspire America’s youth to greatness, to never stop being curious, and to reach their goals.

For more information on the TRIO programs at UNI, please visit the following websites:

To learn more about TRIO programs in general, please visit: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/trio/index.html

Thank you for your support and continued support of TRIO programs.

Matthew Moore
Assistant Director
UNI Classic Upward Bound TRIO Program

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