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Each year, the Upward Bound program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) hosts a summer academy to provide a 5-week college experience. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the academy online, it is not stopping Director Dawn Compton and her team from creating a memorable, fun, and meaningful experience for high school participants. “The Upward Bound staff have been working around the clock, creating a virtual summer academy program that would keep our students active and learning throughout the summer months,” said Compton. “We are a few weeks into the program and it has certainly been a success.”

In all, 65 students from area high schools were selected to participate in the program. In addition to core classes in math, English, science, and foreign language, students can elect to participate in classes such as financial literacy, drama, cooking, art, and more, all delivered via Zoom video conference. Students also participate in group activities, such as virtual escape rooms coordinated by program resident assistants. “One of my internship assignments was to interview a professional and I’ve never had something like this,” said Sarai Guzman, an Upward Bound Junior. “It was amazing to have the interviewee write back and answer my questions; it made me want to contact a few more on my own!”

In order to ensure students get the most out of the experience, the program has issued 20 laptops and 12 wifi hotspots, along with coordinating a supply pickup and drop off each Sunday. The Upward Bound Program at NEO has had tremendous success over the past several years and is in the third year of its $1.5 million TRiO program grant. For more information about the Upward Bound program, contact Compton at dacompt@neo.edu. (Photo: Resident assistants prepare weekly supplies for participant pick up)


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