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Upward Bound Program inspiring kids still through pandemic

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Education keeps moving forward in one way or another despite the pandemic. Upward Bound (UB), a federally funded program, continues to prepare local high schoolers for higher education.

The program is designed for high school students who come from first generational low-income families and those who struggle academically.

The program is open to all races and cultural backgrounds. It provides resources like ACT/SAT prep, financial assistance, FASFA filing, and help with resume writing. Also, the high schoolers typically get to spend time on a college campus to spend the night in the dorms to get a taste of the experience. Still, because of the pandemic, the program has moved to a virtual curriculum.

Even with going online, Upward Bound students such as Pa Yang, Mai See Yang, and Malissa Hawkins, all said the program had inspired them to want to most out of life.

"The program has created a welcoming space for us students," Pa Yang said. "All of us students are close and have been able to relate to each other in some way."

Mai See Yang and Hawkins tell News 19 that both their parents did not pursue higher education because of certain circumstances, which inspired them to be the first in their families to go to college.

"Knowing that my parents didn't have the same opportunities I did, made me want to pursue a college career," Mai See Yang said. "I want my parents to be proud of me."

"I want to go to college so I can be a good influence for my siblings," Hawkins said. "When they grow up, they will know they can go to college because I will," said Hawkins.

Shaundel Spivey, the Director for the UW-La Crosse Upward Bound program division, and Jazzma Holland, the Assistant Director, are both UB alumni.

Both said a big reason why they went to college was because of Upward Bound.

"UB was an overall amazing opportunity for me," Spivey said. "The other UB students and I were able to travel around to different states, check out colleges, learn about the various academic and professional fields."

"Here at UB, we don't want students to fall through the cracks," Holland said. "It is so fulfilling to work with all of these UB students. My goal is to show and give back the knowledge that I was given as a high school student."

This week, UB staff and it students are donating to local homeless shelters in La Crosse, and come December, students will have an artistic showcase in the UW-La Crosse Student Union.

UB is looking for experienced tutors for this fall semester, click here to find out how to become one.

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Lindsey Ford

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist.

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