One federally funded program across the nation is seeing a lot of cuts. Many Upward Bound programs in the bluegrass and eastern Kentucky may not be around next year.
Organizers at one college in Knox County are celebrating and hoping they will be able to continue bettering the lives and futures of students who live in a region where they are not always given the opportunity and tools to pursue higher education.
Dozens of students, parents and teachers came to show their appreciation for a job well done for all who participated in Union College's Upward Bound Program.
Though it may seem like a happy time, organizers said it is bittersweet.
“I am sad because this feels possibly like the last time we could be doing this, 13 years for me, that's a long time,” said Michael Hensley, an Upward Bound Graduate and Teacher.
Hensley said this was his first job out of college and since he became a teacher he has seen the good the program has done over time.
“As it stands right now we are being told we will not be funded for the fall, so we are treating this as a celebration for the work that we have done for the students, but also for the program over the past 32 years,” said Dee Crescitelli, the Coordinator for Union College’s Upward Bound.
Administrators said they are one of several across the state who have been told that they will not receive funding. Those who have participated in the program over the years said that they believe it has changed their lives for the better and they would hate to see potential opportunities taken away from future generations.
“Without the program, I probably would not have done as well,” said Juleda Hyde, Union College and Upward Bound Graduate who became a counselor for the students this summer.
“I was really lucky to have my dad to help me out but I know a lot of other students have parents who are not as motivated to get them to do the things that they need to do to be successful.”
One Leslie County High School graduating senior who will attend U.C. in the fall agreed.
“It is one of those things that doesn't benefit anybody, it just hurts furthering the knowledge of students, generations behind us you know,” said J.D. Ford.
“Like my little sister, I would love for her to have this program, I would love for every kid in the state to have this program.”
Some said they believe it pays off in the long run.
“I feel like this is an investment, these kids are an investment,” said Hensley.
“It prepares you for college, because once you are there, you are on your own,” said Upward Bound and University of Kentucky Graduate Joyce Achenjang.
Achenjang and Hyde were both recognized at the ceremony. Hyde plans to attend Wright State University to obtain her Master’s Degree and Achenjang will start medical school in the fall at UK.
Union College administrators also held a reunion for all who participated in Upward Bound throughout the years. Officials said they believe it is worthwhile, especially for the eastern region of the state. They said they have put in an appeal and hope that will change the outcome for next year.
For more information on Upward Bound, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/trioupbound/index.html