Suffolk University is working closely with 65 Upward Bound students as the federal program celebrates 50 years of easing the journey to higher education for low-income students who aim to be the first in their families to attend college.
High school students from two Dorchester schools connect with Suffolk University throughout the year and get a firsthand taste of college life when they live in a residence hall for two weeks during the summer, according to Suffolk Upward Bound Associate Director Amanda Bernasconi, who stayed with the students on campus this past August.
“Living on campus whets the students’ appetites for the college experience and firms up their commitment to the year-round academic support we offer,” says Bernasconi.
Partnering with Dorchester schools
Suffolk’s Upward Bound program, operated by the University’s Center for Academic Access and Opportunity, serves Dorchester Academy and Tech Boston Academy.
During the academic year, services are offered three days a week at the two schools, with supplementary programming on the Suffolk campus. And the two-week August residential experience was the culmination of a six-week academically focused on-campus summer program for these students.
“The Center for Academic Access and Opportunity is committed to providing our Upward Bound participants with academic support services and activities that will enhance their academic skills, thereby ensuring that they will complete high school and enroll in and complete a program of post-secondary education,” says Ammad Sheikh, the center’s director.
The instruction focuses on college readiness, teaching “soft skills,” such as how to take notes, manage time, or talk with a professor. It also helps build core academic skills in literature, composition, mathematics, and science.
Students are focused on college acceptance and attendance from freshman year on. In addition to academic support, the program guides students as they seek help with test prep, college advising, financial aid, and scholarship research.
In addition to instruction, Suffolk offers an internship component that exposes students to career paths connected with their college aims.
“The mission of Suffolk University is very close to the mission of Upward Bound,” says Bernasconi. “Students make connections with faculty and staff who help them develop their potential. The program sets them on a path to success by making a college education attainable.”
A record of success
A student from a family in the top income quartile is nine times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than a student born into the bottom quartile—73.3 percent compared to 8.3 percent, according to information supplied by Upward Bound. Participating in the program triples the chances for participating students to graduate from college.
The Suffolk-sponsored students are following the path of Upward Bound alumni such as Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett, NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, who hails from Cambridge, Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd, and UMass Boston Chancellor Keith Motley.