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Upward Bound to host conference

Emily Keebler | Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Notre Dame’s Upward Bound program will host its fifth annual TRIO Day conference Saturday, helping low-income and first-generation students and their parents get ready for college with presentations in McKenna Hall.

The Upward Bound College Preparatory Program is a U.S. Department of Education initiative that provides high school students with resources and skills for success in high school and higher education. Since 1966, the federal government has funded Notre Dame’s Upward Bound program, making it one of the oldest in the country.

The program is hosting “TRIO Scholars Embracing the Future” to celebrate TRIO Day, a national day of recognition for program participants. Former Indiana Sen. Cleo Washington will deliver the keynote address.

Washington currently practices law in Indianapolis and is an alumnus of the Notre Dame Upward Bound program.

“Usually what we try to do is bring in speakers who have similar backgrounds to the students and have been successful,” Upward Bound Director Alyssia Coates said of the speaker choice.

Other program alumni, including Anthony Douglass of Key Bank and Damon Howell, an admissions officer at Wabash College, will make presentations.

Five student leaders – sophomores, juniors and seniors from South Bend’s John Adams, Clay, Washington and James Whitcomb Riley public high schools – played an integral part in planning the conference.

“I am a true believer in applying what students learn to real-life experiences,” Coates said. “In this case, students experience a [regional leadership] conference, learn from that conference, and come back and help us plan our own conference.”

The students chose the conference theme, planned meals, designed T-shirts and nametags and selected awards that other students will receive.

“It gives them firsthand experience on how a conference is set up and planned,” Coates said, adding that exposing high school students to conferences teaches them important networking skills.

The five student leaders also designed presentations focusing on diversity and life choices. They will present their findings to peers from Notre Dame Upward Bound as well as youths in programs at Purdue University Calumet, the Robinson Community Learning Center and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Parents will also attend the leadership conference.

“The reason parental involvement is so important is that often times parents and students don’t have time to do things together,” Coates said. “It’s a great opportunity to have the two entities together and to learn.”

Many of the students’ parents are adult learners, Coates said, so their presence at the conference will help them as well as their children.

Presentation themes range from “Information Literacy Tools: Beyond Google” to “Financial Pitfalls to Avoid in College” and “College Sports: Going for the Extra Point.”