(left to right)Dr. Gary Wheeler, Samantha Singleton, Shayla Jourdan, and Yolanda McNary, and Elizabeth O’Dell showing off scholarship awards.

Awards banquet honors Upward Bound students

Upward Bound students in the Summer Academy program at Glen Oaks Community College were reminded at their 6th Annual Awards Banquet that “you’ll see a lot of changes in your life.” The Glen Oaks President said that Upward Bound, a TRIO program for high school students funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is “all about change and learning about social engagement and higher expectations. You’ve had role models with your directors and various leaders in the community who are interested in seeing you succeed.”

Elizabeth O’Dell, Executive Director, Community Mental Health of St. Joseph County, joined Dr. Wheeler as she explained “change is inevitable” and “six years ago who would have thought General Motors would file for bankruptcy?” O’Dell said students don’t have to be fearful of change, but instead may embrace it. “You can steer yourself in any direction you want to go. Each and every one of you is special. The future is yours! The decision is up to you. It is for YOU to decide where you’ll go…”

For many of the students receiving a strong academic foundation in Upward Bound, the future now includes a college education. Seven of the 2009 graduates are headed for a college campus. Doug Brumfield plans to be a Computer major, Shayla Jourdan will major in Business Technology, Naja McGowan begins Pre-Medicine studies, Yolanda McNary will pursue a Criminal Justice major and Fire Science minor, Samantha Singleton will be an Education major, Gabrielle Embil will be a Pre-Veterinary major, and Jasmine Holmes will be a Nursing major.

Scholarships to assist with college costs were awarded to several students. The Invest In You Scholarship ($500) went to Shayla Jourdan, Yolanda McNary, Samantha Singleton, and Gabrielle Embil. The scholarship was developed through a partnership between Glen Oaks Community College Foundation, the Three Rivers Branch of the NAACP, Sturgis Bank and Trust and Southern Michigan Bank at Three Rivers. Donations to this 501C (3) fund are tax deductible.

Receiving the newly established Ernest R. Graham Scholarship was Shayla Jourdan of Sturgis High School. Mr. Graham, of Three Rivers, was in attendance at the banquet and received a round of applause for his generosity in establishing the scholarship.

Cynthia Copney, Upward Bound Director, said five students received a perfect attendance award. They are Joseph Jones, Tay’Sheah-vion King, Christina Morrison, Naomi Sassaman, and Anna Shutes, all from Three Rivers High School. Two Outstanding Student Awards were presented to Alexis Bradshaw and Christina Morrison of Three Rivers High School. Two Most Improved Student Awards were presented to Jamal Hunt and Sheena Johnson of Three Rivers High School.

Students in the Upward Bound Summer Academy at Glen Oaks completed six-weeks of classes in math, literature, Spanish, computers, and science. Students earn high school credit for participating in the classes aimed at giving them a head start for the coming school year.