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Program preps teens for campus life

Talia Lewis and Naareh Cook are part of this summer’s on-campus Upward Bound program.

Talia Lewis and Naareh Cook are part of this summer’s on-campus Upward Bound program.

They want to be doctors, lawyers and marine biologists – all achievements never thought possible before entering LBW Community College’s Upward Bound program.

“And that’s what we’re here to do – motivate students to realizing that a college education and a good career are something that they can accomplish,” said Bridges Anderson, program coordinator.

This year, there are 65 students from nine high schools in Covington, Butler and Crenshaw counties and in grades nine through 12 participating in the program.

Upward Bound is a federally-funded program designed to give first-generation students with a low family income a chance to prepare for college.

Today marks the end of the six-week residential program in which students had the opportunity to experience “college life,” complete with a stay in a “dorm room” at an Andalusia hotel.

“It’s our goal to prepare students first in the academic realm for college,” Anderson said. “For example, if they’re in algebra I for the school year, we work on those math skills. We get them to thinking that they can go to college. For some, they would be the first in their family.”

Anderson is quick to talk about program success stories, former students who achieved their goal of becoming a doctor or a lawyer.

Anderson, himself, is a program success story.

“I came through this course,” he said. “I never thought I’d be the one over it. It never crossed my mind that I would be doing something like this, but it gave me the confidence to go to college, to finish my education. I was the first person on my mom’s side to finish college. The third on my dad’s. I tell students, ‘I did it. You can too.’ ”

Students will leave Sunday for an educational and cultural trip to St. Louis, Mo., to visit historic landmarks and college campuses and to experience a night at the theater and a museum tour.

“This program is the first step in our future,” said Trevonte Peterson of Greenville. Peterson plans to attend Abilene Christian University in Texas, majoring in psychology. He plans to become a preacher. “It teaches us that we can go anywhere and do anything, but first we have to graduate high school, then college. This is us getting ready.”

Marty Harris, a rising senior at Red Level High School, wants to become a marine biologist.

He said the program “has helped me a lot with academics, but what it’s really helped me with is my communication skills. It’s taken away my shyness.”

Talia Lewis of Greenville, a rising junior, wants to become an OB-GYN. She said the program has helped to broaden her thinking.

“I know now what college has to offer,” she said.