While most students prepare to get out of school for the summer, other students plan for their future by attending college.
Hurricane Katrina did not change that for some New Orleans high school students who have been involved in the national Upward Bound program at Dillard, which sets them on the right path to college. As such, they are mentored, prepared for the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test(SAT), and they do homework to name a few of their activities.
Select high school students joined Dillard students at the Hilton Hotel for assistance and mentoring every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this semester. Before Hurricane Katrina, the program had 70 members, and post Katrina, 22 determined students returned to continue the program. Students have the opportunity to participate in the same activities as Dillard students and have access to their resources as well.
They have attended such programs as weekly salsa lessons, movie nights with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and ice cream socials, and they participated in various community service projects alongside Dillard students.
Most Upward Bound students said they benefit from the program because it allows them to interact with students from around the city, as well as attend Dillard through concurrent enrollment. Students who have been attending the program for more than 90 days said they are given a monthly stipend for their steady attendance.
John Trahan, a junior at New Orleans Charter Science and Math Senior High School, said he has been coming to the program for three years and that he came back because he enjoyed being able to interact and network with people. He also said the program has helped to develop his social skills.
“I was a nerd my freshman year because I was involved in everything, but I didn’t talk too much. Now I love to talk to everyone,” he said.
Freshman Geralyna Lane, who attends Edna Karr High School, said she wanted to be a part of the program because she wanted to get an early start on college preparation. Lane stated, “It is only my first day, but I can tell that this program will give me something positive to do with my time.”
Since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Dillard University has been trying to recruit new students. Currently 1,100 students attend Dillard. In efforts to increase student enrollment Dillard may look to such programs as Upward Bound to pursue incoming freshmen, according to La’Qoya Jones, academic advisor/program coordinator.