KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 30, 2017
Funding will help low-income, first-generation students attend college
Kennesaw State University’s Paulding Site has a staff of three people, and that small group is making a significant difference for local high school students who want to attend college.
The Paulding Site recently was awarded two Upward Bound grants and one Upward Bound Math-Science grant from the U.S. Department of Education, totaling more than $3.9 million, to assist students in Paulding and Polk counties. Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math-Science are federally funded programs through the Department of Education to prepare high school students, especially those from low-income families or whose parents did not attend college, for success in higher education.
The grants were secured through the efforts of the Paulding Site staff — Director Anita VanBrackle, Assistant Director Dalton Lemelle, Jr., Administrative Specialist Charlotte Hiles — and under the approval of Ken Harmon, provost and vice president of academic affairs. They are the first Upward Bound grants awarded to Kennesaw State, according to Lemelle.
“We are committed to doing as much community outreach as we can,” VanBrackle said. “The students being served by these grants are very smart students, but they may not go to college. These students need somebody to take their hand and say, ‘You can do it.’ We say, ‘You’re going to do it.’”
KSU Paulding Site students all are Georgia Highlands College graduates, many of whom are from the Paulding and Polk communities. Lemelle said that one question the students are asked during orientation is, “What is one way you would help the community you’re from?”
“A resounding 99.9 percent of the students provide the same remark, and that is to give the high school students an opportunity to learn how to be a successful college student, before they actually reached college,” Lemelle said. “We listened to our students, put a plan in action, and now we will make our KSU Paulding students’ wishes come true.”
The Upward Bound grants began in the current school year and will continue for five years. They are benefitting students at Hiram and East Paulding high schools in Paulding County and Cedartown and Rockmart high schools in Polk County.
The grants enable the Paulding Site to hire tutors to work with the students weekly at their high schools and online, and for the participants to attend cultural/educational field trips or workshops. The students will continue to be involved during the summer, by visiting Kennesaw State to simulate a college experience and receiving academic instruction to prepare them for the next grade level and for taking the SAT/ACT.
“We look forward to seeing many successes come from this phenomenal endeavor,” said Katherine Thomas, CEO of the Polk County College and Career Academy. “Polk School District is excited to partner with Kennesaw State University with the Upward Bound program to bring exposure to post-secondary opportunities by providing a foundation of academic and social structures that will assist with our students’ transition into a four-year university.”
Some of the students could choose to attend Kennesaw State, though that isn’t the focus of the program. The goal is to help the students decide the best fit for them — whether that is KSU, a different university or a technical college.
“The main objectives are to increase high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and ultimately, college graduation rates,” Hiles said.
As part of the data collection to measure the initiative’s success, the students will be tracked all the way through their college graduations. The grants are designed to serve 60 students each over the next five years, but potentially could wind up reaching a higher number.
“The program involves a strong commitment from the students and their parents/guardians,” Lemelle said. “Both parents and students will be involved in a variety of workshops, and students will attend field trips and other activities to allow them to be exposed to the full gamut of higher education opportunities.”
Hiles, Lemelle and VanBrackle, also known as “The Paulding Trio,” hope the impact of the three grants will be felt beyond the students who are involved over the next five years. VanBrackle pointed to the trio’s own experiences of being the first college graduates in their families, which then inspired VanBrackle’s and Lemelle’s sons to attend and graduate from college.
“It’s a trickle-down effect,” VanBrackle said. “Not only will the students from East Paulding, Hiram, Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools benefit, but future generations also will be enriched. That is the core of these grants.”
– Paul Floeckher
About the KSU Paulding Site
Kennesaw State University began offering 2+2 Programs in Paulding County in 2010, in partnership with Georgia Highlands College. The Paulding Site features smaller class sizes, friendly faculty and an easily accessible campus to students who live in or near Paulding County. The Paulding Site offers bachelor degree programs in Early Childhood Education, Psychology, and Integrative Studies; plus junior and senior level classes in psychology, early childhood education, leadership, and anthropology. For more information, visit http://paulding.kennesaw.edu.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.