Program Helping High School Students Reach Goals Celebrates 50th Anniversary

A federally funded program helping to give under privileged high school students the tools to reach their goals celebrated 50 years on Tuesday. About 150 kids from the Wausau, Stevens Point, and Green Bay area Upward Bound Programs had a chance to enjoy the milestone.

The celebration was hosted at the U.W. Stevens Point location. Students there said they are so happy there is a program like this to help them reach their goals.

"I want to be a personal fitness trainer," said Sheree Chidester, a senior at Auburndale High School.

"I want to go into the business field," said Wausau East High School senior, Natasha Sawvell.

"I want to write books," future SPASH sophmore, Miguel Gonzalez said.

These are kids with big dreams, but they all come from backgrounds that make planning and preparing for those future goals now, difficult.

"Both of my parents are disabled. I actually don't know my dad. It's a really tough situation. Neither of them work and then there's multiple kids in the family," said Sawvell.

Henry Wojnicki, UWSP Upward Bound Program Director said for the kids who qualify for the program, "their parents are 150% of the poverty level or lower and their parents have also not completed a bachelor degree."

"I had no guidence what so ever neither of my parents had been to college. Only one of my parents finished high school," Sawvell said.

All of the students, however, said Upward Bound has changed that for them.

"I thought it was just a high-in-the-sky dream like being a princess and then I came here and I find out 'hey, you can actually do that' and I'm like, awesome! My goal right there," said Sawvell.

The program provides tools such as taking classes in college settings, test taking and study skills, college tours, and they learn about the governmental programs and financing available to them and how to apply for it. They also give students a chance to meet a diverse group of dreamers like themselves.

"I come from a really small school so I dont' get to like see all of these kinds of people," said Chidester, "so when I come here I learn all of the different kinds of like all the different kinds of languages and ethnicities."

"Even though we all have differences, we all have problems big or small, we just work hard because we want to succeed in life," Gonzalez said.

The year-round program reports about 95% of the Upward Bound students enroll in post-secondary education in the fall following their high school graduation.

If you would like to see if your child qualifies, enroll your child, or donate to the program, you can visit the following link:

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