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Southeasts Upward Bound program has six-weeks session; concludes with tour of famed Redstone Arsenal in Alabama

By Chris Jones

With summertime quickly beginning to dwindle away, the unhurried weeks of June and July will likely be engraved forever into the collective memories of the students who took part in the Upward Bound Program camp sponsored by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. During the recently concluded six-weeks program, 35 high school students from Harlan County High School and Bell County High School participated in the summer program that proved to be a time to learn, grow and explore seeing things many in the group had never had the chance to experience, according to Upward Bound director Dr. Michelle Dykes-Anderson.

Upward Bound is a federally funded educational program with the goal of inspiring students from low income families, or potential first-generation college students, to complete high school and pursue post-secondary education. The program as operated by Southeast is to inspire students to pursue (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers and expose them to different career paths.

During the recent session, students took part in classroom group projects including the design of a website for the SKCTC Upward Bound program. Another project was a detailed study of water sources within the area in order to determine which of the sources was more pure for consumption, including that of bottled water.

During the summer session, students stayed in a local hotel and throughout the day attended classes taught at Harlan County High School and on the Harlan campus of SKCTC. How thankful we are for the wonderful hospitality shown to us by Harlan County High School and its principal Edna Burkhart and for allowing our students to use the facility and equipment, said Dykes-Anderson.

It was, however, not all hard work for the group, she noted. In the evenings students had the opportunity to see movies, travel to the water park in Barbourville, participate in intramural athletic competitions and attend Upward Bound Day held at Eastern Kentucky University where the group took a campus tour, met with faculty and attended a dance.

Students who take part in the Upward Bound program receive a stipend while receiving assistance in their preparation for college. We offer incentives as the students receive quality and specialized instruction during the summer term and one Saturday each month, explained Dykes-Anderson. Upward Bound is a great opportunity, we are always looking for qualified and enthusiastic candidates for the program.

Prospective students must be enrolled at either Bell County or Harlan County high schools. They are ushered into the program beginning in their eight grade year and stay through their junior year.

After applying themselves in the classroom for over a month, the group concluded the summer with a banquet and awards ceremony with each student being honored. Brandon Robinson, an alumnus of Southeast who is a staff meteorologist at WYMT-TV, was the guest speaker.

The summer term was capped off by a cultural and educational trip; four days on the road seeing exciting things and learning much more about the STEM-related curricula.

The students went first to Chattanooga, taking in the Tennessee Aquarium. They went to Rock City and to historic Lookout Mountain, but it was their next stop that would prove to be an eye-opening experience for many as they motored to Huntsville, Ala., and a tour of Redstone Arsenal. Redstone is home to the U.S. Army Material Command, the Armys Aviation and Missile Command, the Missile Defense Agency of the Department of Defense and home to NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center.

It was in Huntsville that Dr. Lynn Moore, the president of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, joined the students. Dr. Moore is a native of Huntsville and her father worked for a number of years at Redstone Arsenal. She said she was eager for the students to see the facility and arranged for them to take a behind the scenes tour, an opportunity rarely afforded to groups. Dr. Moore still has ties to the area and was able to coordinate the agenda so students would be exposed to STEM-related career opportunities and contacts. I believe it is important to demonstrate to our students, now while they are in high school, the growing need for individuals to acquire basic knowledge and skills. I want to take every opportunity possible to show students career paths that they may develop a passion for, like many of the professionals they met on the trip, Moore said.

The Huntsville portion of the trip began with a visit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center. Students were treated to presentations and demonstrations by Boyce L. Ross, director of engineering and Patrick M. Haas, director of chemical demilitarization, among many other engineers and architects who direct building and development projects all over the world. Our students had a chance to visit with these professionals to learn why they chose career paths that they are now so passionate about, and to learn about internship opportunities in the STEM field once they complete high school, she said.

Dr. Moore noted that the group was amazed at the number of Kentuckians who had completed their engineering training at the University of Kentucky and had re-located to Huntsville to work at the office of the Army Corps of Engineers. They all wore blue shirts in honor of UK and for our visit, she said.

Barbara Williams, YESS/School Liaison Officer with the U.S. Army Child, Youth and School Services at Redstone Arsenal, accompanied Dr. Moore, students and Upward Bound staff as they went through a rigorous security search and screening process before being allowed onto the Redstone Arsenal property. During the bus ride, Mrs. Williams shared first-hand experiences with the students as an Upward Bound student in the 1970s and how that experience had given her the start she needed to become an educator and administrator. I wouldnt be where I am today with a successful career had it not been for the support and guidance of the Upward Bound family. Students, all Upward Bound past, present and future participants and staff will forever be part of your Upward Bound family. Make sure to utilize this network of support, she said.

The first stop on the Arsenal was lunch at the caf on post where Lester M. Ross, Jr., Dr. Moores brother and a design engineer at Boeing International, gave students a presentation on his work on the International Space Station. The group then rode to the middle of the spacious property which Dr. Moore said resembles the Florida Everglades and to the Rocket Test Area 5 site where the group climbed to the top of a building and onto the roof to view a live test firing of the engine of a Hellfire missile. After the group viewed the video of the test from the communications conference room, the students were escorted to the underground concrete bunker and into the mile-long communication tunnel that has been in use since World War I. The next stop was the NASA Command and Control facility where the students had a chance to view professionals communicating with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The two-day tour of Huntsville concluded with a stop at Hudson Alpha in Research Park where students learned about cutting-edge research and the development of immunogenome research from a group of scientists and bio-tech chemists at the non-profit organization. The final stop was a tour of the Huntsville campus of the University of Alabama.

Upward Bound students came away impressed and inspired. After taking this trip, I think I would like to become an architect, said Tatyana King, a first-year Upward Bound student. We saw some amazing things, things I will always remember. I hope to have a job one day where I can make a difference and make a contribution.

Upward Bound math and science staff for the summer term includes Dykes-Anderson, director; Amanda Creech, Jennifer Brackett, Patricia Baker, Carolyn Sundy, Tierra Sundy, Jennifer Carmical and instructors Scott Pace, Theresa Banks, Amanda Creech and Jennifer Brackett. Tutor/counselors were Danielle Brock, Aaron Garfield, Braxton Fields, Ruth Frost and Zachery Howard.

Students participating in the 2014 session include: Miranda Anderson, Courtney Baker, Summer Bishop, Sadie Blevins, Tahj Bryant, Alanna Cavins, Mitchell Cobb, Charles Farmer, Haelyn Farmer, Shelbee Farmer, Julia Gabbard, Leonna Gambrel, A.J. Hall, Breana Hogue, Summer Hoskins, Sierra Jarvis, Caleb Johnson, Tia King, Aaron Mefford, Dalton McClain, Deona Mimes, Elizabeth Pace, Faith Posey, Kristin Pruitt, Brianna Rogue, Sara Skidmore, Christa Sowards, Terrence Stephens, Jessica Stewart, Tamber Taylor, Austin Turner, James Bengie, Taylor Cobb, Cassie Green, Jacob Morgan, Paige Parks, McKayla Wyrick and Caitlin Zachery.

Upward Bound students standing in front of retired space shuttle