Campus News

Statewide Upward Bound Rally Brings 120 High Schoolers to the Bowdoin Campus

Story posted November 20, 2003

Approximately 120 high school students from around Maine spent the weekend of November 15-16 on the Bowdoin campus to attend the fifth annual Upward Bound Statewide Rally.

Upward Bound is designed to motivate and prepare academically talented but economically disadvantaged high school students for higher education. Bowdoin's Upward Bound program is now in its 38th year. Programs from the University of Maine-Orono, the University of Maine-Farmington, the University of Maine-Presque Isle, and the University of Southern Maine were also represented at the rally.

"It was a wonderful event," said Bridget Mullen, director of Bowdoin's Upward Bound program. "From the registration and introductions to the workshops, presentations and performances, a real energy infused every activity. The rally was very student-centered, and the participants were really invested in the activities, which was exciting."

The theme of the rally was "Quo Vadis?" ("Where are you going? What is your direction?"). Throughout the weekend students worked in small groups and with Upward Bound staff and Bowdoin students to explore possibilities that go beyond the limited options they have known growing up.

The high schoolers heard presentations, worked on projects, met with college students, toured the campus, enjoyed performances and group meals, and attended a dance party with their fellow Upward Bounders.

They also worked through some tough questions about boundaries, opportunities, and choices. At the end of the weekend, each small group made a presentation, sharing what they had learned about where their future directions might lead.

The Upward Bounders were greeted Saturday by Craig McEwen, Bowdoin's dean for academic affairs and Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology.

"It is a particular treat for me to welcome you to this wonderful event that should challenge each of you deeply to think about your own personal direction," McEwen said. "Over 28 years at Bowdoin, I have had the chance to teach former Upward Bound students who have come to the College and to see them grow and change and go on to make wonderful contributions to this world."

Wearing his sociologist hat McEwen said, "I know well the research evidence that very talented high school students who come from low income backgrounds or isolated rural communities find it much more difficult to go on to and graduate from college than much less talented students who come from higher income backgrounds and less isolated areas. So I understand the enormous value of Upward Bound in permitting a few fortunate young people such as yourselves to challenge the boundaries that our society has built to opportunity and open and free choice."

McEwen also inspired the gathering with the stories of two special people, just like the students themselves, who went from disadvantaged childhoods in rural Maine to adult lives of great accomplishment: Shane Perry, a former Upward Bound student who now owns and operates one of the area's largest printing companies; and George Mitchell, who strived beyond the limitations of his very humble beginnings to become a federal judge, U.S. senator, senate majority leader, and leading peacemaker in Northern Ireland.

"[Their] lives were opened up by chances to think beyond the confines of their own lives and backgrounds. That is the opportunity that Upward Bound provides to you."

Among the presentations, a panel of current college students who are also Upward Bound graduates spoke to the high schoolers about making the most out of college. The panel included Bowdoin students Eric Davis '07, Truc Huynh '05, and Evangeline White '04.

Several Bowdoin student groups performed and spoke about getting involved in campus activities during college. Groups participating included Anokha (Ponnila Samuel '07), BOCA, the Meddiebempsters, Miscellania, and Bowdoin POETS (Joy Lee '07).

The high school students also had the opportunity to attend information sessions with Bowdoin admissions staff.

"We have lots of folks to thank for helping make this event a success," said Mullen. "The dining staff, especially Joe Andrews, Rob Peabody, Ellen Ater, and Trish Gipson; Lindsay and Amy in facilities management; Burgie Howard, Susan Moore Leonard and Mirza Ramic for use of the Pub; Dean Craig McEwen for his support of the Upward Bound mission; Jim Kelley for AV and digital photography of the event; the support of admissions and Rob Allen's good work; and Bowdoin student volunteers, including David Aron '05, Yana Domuschieva '04, Alex Harris '04, and Kate McCalmont '04, who helped with registration, small groups, transport and much more."

One of more than 700 similar programs nationwide, Bowdoin College Upward Bound is a TRIO program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and is designed to motivate and prepare economically disadvantaged high school students for higher education. The staff works with students to raise aspirations for education beyond high school, and helps prepare both for successful high school graduation and for completion of a degree from an appropriate post-secondary institution.

Two-thirds of the students in all TRIO Programs come from families with incomes under $24,000 (family of four), where neither parent graduated from college. Within the Bowdoin College Upward Bound target area, only 22.5% of students go on to college from high school. Students in Bowdoin's program, however, go on to college at a rate of 82%.

The Bowdoin program works with students from 20 Maine high schools.

To learn more about Bowdoin's Upward Bound Program visit

« Back | Campus News | Academic Spotlight | | Subscribe to Bowdoin News by Email