The keynote speaker for the event, Ashley Ferguson, a recent graduate of Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, completed an internship with the university’s 32,000-circulation alumni publication, Wittenberg Magazine, in 2002 as an Upward Bound Bridge Student. Ashley is currently employed with the Martha Stewart Living Magazine in New York City.
This year’s banquet will honor several individuals who are graduating from the Wittenberg UB program, including Marsha Elliott, Erica Crawford and Robert Sanders, all of Springfield South High School, and Justin Webb, of Springfield North High School.
Upward Bound is a pre-college preparatory program designed to motivate and provide academic skills for students from first-generation college and low-income families interested in pursuing a secondary education. All UB services are provided free of charge. Eligible students, grades nine-12, come from target high schools in Springfield and Clark County, including North and South, Tecumseh, Greenon and Shawnee. Each student receives a monthly stipend during the regular school year and a weekly stipend during the six-week summer program for participating.
During the school year, participants have weekly contact with UB staff members, teachers and tutor-counselors, and they receive tutoring from Wittenberg students at least one night each week. In addition, the students receive intensive academic, personal and career counseling, and attend basic skills classes on campus during the week. Students also have the opportunity to receive credit for two college courses at Wittenberg before they begin their first year in college.
UB alumna Ebony Speaks, head resident for this year’s program, is a 1998 graduate of Springfield South High School. She has completed a B.S. in Biblical Studies, from Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University, and she will begin work on her Ph.D. this fall.
“Upward Bound has been very instrumental throughout my academic career,” Speaks said. “The program has been strategic in motivating and encouraging me to go beyond my dreams.”
Aaron Davis, Wittenberg class of 2005, is the assistant head resident this year, and he also credits the UB program with his success.
“My mother insisted I become involved in Upward Bound my senior year at South High School,” Davis said. “The program is a great tool to prepare students for greater educational and life experiences.”
Success stories such as Rebecca Crockett, Wittenberg class of 2000, swell the program’s alumni base. Crockett became a member of the Upward Bound program when she began ninth grade at Greenon High School, and she worked in Wittenberg’s Office of Financial Aid as a Bridge Student. Crockett returned as the keynote speaker for the annual banquet in 2003, and she completed her D.O. at Ohio University in 2004. Currently, Crockett is in her OB/GYN residency at St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center in Toledo.
According to Eddie Chambers, director of Upward Bound, 4,000 Clark County students have participated in the program since its inception on Wittenberg’s campus in 1966. He is also proud to note a 75 percent graduation rate.
- Phyllis Eberts
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