BU Wheelock’s Upward Bound Hosts Students from Boston and Chelsea for College-Prep program

UB students participate via Zoom.

70 students from public schools throughout Boston and Chelsea participated in a second summer of virtual programming hosted by BU Wheelock’s Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science, which is within the Office of College Access and Student Success. Usually an on-campus program, Upward Bound has operated at BU since 1989. The theme for this year’s program was “Are You On? Building Effective Communications Skills.” In addition to their academic courses, participating students took part enrichment activities, read and discussed Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon, and heard from a diverse group of career speakers, including BU’s, Stacey G. Harris, associate director of Disability & Access Services. Upward Bound Math Science students also participated in weekly STEM activities.

“Effective communication is an essential asset in college and careers and in an individual’s personal life,” says Reggie Jean, director of Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science. “As part of this summer’s curriculum, students learned different skills and strategies related to communication, such as expressing your ideas, active listening, and understanding others.”

Journalist and Celtics commentator Abby Chin speaks to UB students.

For many students, it was a time to explore the many different career options that lie ahead.

“I’m not sure about my career yet,” says Eric Cho, a student at Josiah Quincy Upper School who took part in the Cybersecurity STEM program. “But when I listen to all these different speakers, it helps me figure out what I might like to pursue.”

Students also took part in several volunteer opportunities that were facilitated by Upward Bound Program Managers Taiomi Cruz and Emily Walton. These activities included a letter-writing campaign where students sent well wishes by U.S. mail to patients at hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation. Upward Bound supplied the materials and postage.

“For many of our students, it was their first-time sending a letter in the mail,” says Cruz. “It was definitely a learning experience for them, from figuring out stamps to just letter writing in general.”

A card from a UB student to a patient at a Ronald McDonald House.

For Kimberly Ucelolopez, an incoming student at Brighton High School, the letter-writing project was the most impactful part of the summer.

“It makes me happy to send a card that might put a smile on the face of someone who needed it,” she says.

“In our closing summer survey, 100% of the students said they would recommend Upward Bound to a friend,” says Jean. “We look forward to another cohort of students next summer.”

Before the program wrapped up, we at BU Wheelock had the opportunity to chat with some of the UB students to hear which aspects of the summer was most meaningful for each of them. Read what several of them had to say below.

UB alumnus and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas speaks to students via Zoom.

Jeremiah Marsh (Boston Green Academy), on hearing from UB alumnus and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas: “He was very relatable. We have a lot of similar past experiences, so it was very motivational to hear him tell me not to give up. I had never met someone who did that type of work.”

Osmarlin Melo (Margarita Muniz Academy), on hearing from journalist and Celtics commentator Abby Chin: “There’s not a lot of women in her field so I liked to hear about her experiences. I had never thought about using communications skills in that way. Maybe I could do it, too.”

Rosalinda Rojas (Chelsea High School), on participating in the Science Wednesdays Space Mission STEM track: “Getting to work on different simulations and projects “showed us how everyone might have a different job, but they all always come together to finish the mission.”

King David Buckle (Charlestown High School), on hearing from chef and blogger Michelle Estades Santiago: “I love cooking, so I really enjoyed hearing how she spends her time preparing. I’m not sure I want to be a chef, but it was fun to learn more about someone who loves cooking as well.”