Without Upward Bound, “I would be in jail,” West, who works in UofL’s advancement office, told the audience at a program celebrating the 50th anniversary of Upward Bound and related federal programs aimed at helping low-income and first-generation college students.

The audience of administrators, students, graduates and staff members filled Chao Auditorium on Nov. 13 for the celebration: The year 2014 marked 50 years since Upward Bound was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his war on poverty and became the foundation of a group of federally funded college opportunity programs known collectively as TRIO.

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Upward Bound consists of an academic program and a summer program geared to high school students; UofL also administers TRIO Student Support Services, aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates once the students are on campus. Another program in the TRIO group, new to UofL, is GoCollege, in which college coaches are placed in high schools to offer advice, tutoring, mentoring and other services.

The ceremony spotlighted Upward Bound, which didn’t start at UofL until 1965. Many who have participated in Upward Bound would call it “their ticket from poverty to the middle class,” said Mary Thorpe, program director. Today, in Jefferson County, the program serves 150 students from 22 high schools, she said.

West was part of a panel of four Upward Bound alumni who said the program taught them everything from how to dress professionally to how to apply for their FAFSA. “They want to see you succeed,” said Thomas Packer, a 2009 Upward Bound graduate who completed his UofL degree this year.

President James Ramsey, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and the Council for Opportunity in Education were each given awards honoring them for their support of the TRIO programs.

“Our community is a better community because of the TRIO programs and our country is a better country because of the TRIO programs,” Dan Hall, vice president of community engagement, told the audience. Michael Mardis, interim vice president of student affairs, said in his closing remarks that education provides the avenue to realize one’s dreams.



Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.