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TRIO Upward Bound virtual summer program helped students “ride the wave” to college prep

This past July, 170 Boise State University TRIO Upward Bound high school participants grabbed their computers, logged into Blackboard and loaded up Zoom, ready and excited to take advantage of the first virtual summer session in the program’s history. This year’s theme “Ride the Wave” acknowledged the challenges students faced after learning went virtual in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Upward Bound is a federally-funded intensive program that prepares high school students for higher education, this time in an unprecedented virtual environment. The challenges of virtual learning were a big consideration for Boise State TRIO staff who had to change their usual approach to the summer program, which included offerings in four primary areas: High school classes where students earn credits, paid internships and training, a senior academy that included finalizing plans for college and social/cultural extracurricular programming.

“We rode the wave of change during the planning stages as our traditional residential face-to-face summer program plans quickly turned into a virtual campus setting that was still filled with engaging assignments and college-going activities,” said Jaime Campbell, project director and summer school principal for Boise State TRIO Upward Bound. “The summer program experience provided a running start for virtual schooling which became invaluable for students to prepare for this fall as most schools opened online.”

Victoria Grady, who participated this summer, appreciated the program despite the virtual format. “Upward Bound has been a huge game changer for me, I’ve learned endless things about college and I’ve met some of my closest friends through the program,” she said. “Though this summer was a lot different, I am happy to say I spent my final summer program learning much more about myself and my future.”

In addition to the summer program offerings, TRIO staff delivered meals, computers, internet hotspots, safety materials including masks and hand-sanitizer and school supplies to any participating student who required assistance.