Former students agree: UB changed their lives

Published 2:23 am Friday, June 23, 2017

Upward Bound played an integral role in the lives of many students in the last 40 years on the LBWCC campus.

Two former students – Rheta McClain and Dr. Latisha Pettway Marbuary – are among those who benefitted tremendously from the program and went on to have highly successful careers.

Both are 1995 graduates of Georgiana High School and learned about the program at school.

McClain said that through Upward Bound, she made some lifelong friends and interacted with teachers whom she still looks up to and depends upon for advice.

“The program gave me stability,” she said. “I got exposure to things my parents weren’t financially able to do. We got to do culture trips. I got exposed to things that made me want to be successful.”

McClain had a lot of experience with Upward Bound.

She was a student in the program, was a student worker in the program, then she attended LBWCC, where she was a work study student in the program. When she transferred to AUM, she chose education as her major.

“I’m very, very sad that our students for the next five years won’t have the opportunity to get those experiences,” said McClain, an administrative assistant for learning support for the Butler County Board of Education. “It was great to have a support system and be the first-time college student.”

In her current role, McClain handles all federal programs for Butler County Schools, at-risk students and anything that presents a barrier to students and parents to be engaged in the learning environment. Her responsibilities include the system’s after-school and summer programs.

“I feel like what I do today is a small part of what Upward Bound does,” she said. “I get to do it for the students of Butler County.”

McClain began her career as a teacher in 2002 and has been working in education ever since. She was on loan one year to the state department, but had the opportunity to come back and work at the central office several years ago.

Marbuary said she also learned about the Upward Bound program at school.

“When we were going to school it was really popular,” she said. “We had some people who had gone and had great experiences. I had some cousins who had gone. I applied and got accepted.”

Marbuary said she participated in the program from her freshmen year until she graduated. She said she did take a year off to participate in another college program.

“My mom and my dad were separated. So, I came from a single parent home. I was the first person in my family to ever go to college. It was a great experience for me to have mentors and people who saw the potential in me. I got to see what living outside of Georgiana was. It was a great experience and propelled me.”

Marbuary said that Bridges Anderson, director of the program at LBW, was instrumental in helping her with a salutatorian scholarship to the University of Montevallo, where she earned a degree in biology.

“When I got out of school, I worked a little while,” she said. “I needed to figure out what I wanted to do.”

In 2006, she entered the optometry program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She graduated in 2010.

She now works as an optometrist for the Davis Eye Care in Athens.

“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor,” she said.

Marbuary said she’s torn up that the Upward Bound program is closing because it made an impact on her life and the lives of so many more.