Contact: Susan Cramp at 505.562.2452
Reporter: Mini Tian
PORTALES—Two groups of Upward Bound high school students on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales have had an active summer of academics, social responsibilities, recreation and field trips. Seven of the 37 began participating on June 4 and will continue through July 27. The rest began June 11 and will finish on July 21.
Upward Bound is funded by the federal government for high school students from grades 9–12 to help them graduate from high school and prepare for college. Upward Bound was established in 1965, and has been at ENMU since 1967. In the early 1960s, during the Civil Rights era, the government wanted to break the pattern of students from families without a history of higher education also not attending college. Thus, Upward Bound was born. The program gives at-risk students the knowledge to pursue a college education, as well as a taste of being on a college campus during the summer.
"We offer a year-round program from September through May; we meet with the students two Saturdays per month during the school year," said Susan Cramp, ENMU’s Upward Bound director. "During the summer, we have a six-week academic program. We also have students who have graduated from high school come to ENMU during the summer for eight-week college classes," she noted. Upward Bound pays for students' tuition and classes (during their “bridge” summer between high school and college), attracting students from Clovis, Texico, Dora, Elida, Floyd, Portales, and even Mescalero – a Native American reservation south of Ruidoso.
Eastern’s Upward Bound students have been taking classes in mathematics, foreign languages (including Swahili, a language spoken in Kenya, Africa), English and science. Elective courses include art, psychology, multicultural history and physical education classes (basketball, softball, aqua-aerobics and weightlifting). Non-academic activities include ice-breaker socials and visiting community service centers and sites. "Students will go to the Baptist Children’s Home, a nursing home or read at the public library. They can also volunteer with a United Way program,” said Ms. Cramp, a Yuma, Ariz., native who received bachelor and master degrees from Eastern.
During the past three years Upward Bound has taken trips to Boston, Mass., Santa Fe and Washington, D.C. This year they took a three-day trip to Oklahoma City. While there, they visited three colleges in Okalahoma City, and the Okalahoma City National Memorial and Monument—where they listened to a bombing survivor. They also visited an amusement park and “Indian City USA.”
Upward Bound students have to be first-generation college bound and meet certain family income requirements. Upward Bound has a wide variety of students, ranging from 2.5–4.0 GPAs, class presidents, athletes, cheerleaders and many other honored students. "Most of these kids are not delinquent or troubled students,” said Cramp. “They are average or above students with some academic needs, and a desire to go to college. Our program gives them study skills and the confidence to overcome hurdles to higher education.” We help them search for scholarships, pay for them to take the ACT or SAT college entrance test, help them apply for entrance to a college of their choice, and even help them register," said Cramp.
She added, “We have an excellent group of students. I enjoy being with them and making a difference in their lives. What’s rewarding is when you see students that you worked with graduate from high school and then college. I know students who were high school sophomores when I first started working in Upward Bound in 1997 that have graduated from Eastern and begun productive careers.”
Because it is a federal program, Upward Bound employees are not allowed to recruit for ENMU. "We take students on campus tours, and the majority decide to come here," said Cramp. Last year, 100 percent (13 of 13) of the seniors chose to enroll at ENMU. Cramp said, “They’ve been to Upward Bound here, and they know the campus. They feel comfortable here.
“This is my 10th year working for Upward Bound. I started working for the ENMU Upward Bound program when I was a college student as a study skills instructor and moved to resident assistant for the summer. As a graduate student, I became the Outreach Coordinator,” Cramp said. She also worked for Upward Bound in Colorado, and has been back at Eastern since 2003.
“It’s a great program, and I love what I do,” added Cramp.