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Upward Bound leaves lasting impression on students

Upward Bound leaves lasting impression on students.

Approximately 50 local high school students with a thirst for knowledge partici-
pated in this summer’s Upward Bound program at Weatherford College.

These teens are potential first-generation college students from lower income families selected from area high schools.

Following this summer’s college experience – which includes living on campus for six weeks and participating in classes ranging from laboratory science to composition and foreign language – these students are increasingly likely to enroll and graduate from post-secondary institutions.

Emily Miles of Graford and Isaac Meza of Mineral Wells are two of the students who participated in Upward Bound this summer and had an opportunity to view mycorrhizal fungi research in progress by Weatherford College professor Dr. Bishnu Twanabasu and some of his students.

“These students are being exposed to very in-depth scientific experiments and the opportunity to use equipment that most students do not get to use until they get into the college classroom,” said Jeff Kahlden, Director of Upward Bound at WC.
Emily Miles and Shasta Welch
Both Miles and Meza, now seniors at their respective high schools, are anticipating next summer as they will begin their college courses with Upward Bound.

Meza said participating in Upward Bound has made him more confident about attending a university.

“Because of the work with Upward Bound and these labs this year, my career path is really leaning toward the medical or science related fields,” Meza said. “I feel more confident about my future as well due to the assistance that Upward Bound has provided throughout my high school career to this point.”

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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies were a focus for the students of Upward Bound this summer. In addition to botany, the students explored astronomy and biology labs.

“People do what they know and are familiar with,” said Dr. Lisa Welch, chair of Weatherford College’s Science Department. “For this reason it is important for us to provide experiences in science so that students, early in their education, understand and become familiar with the scientific process. Science isn’t about learning a bunch of facts but contributing to the knowledge that we already have about the world around us.”

Jeff Kahlden with Sophia Kelley, Guadalupe Munoz, Perla Hernandez and Kaitlyn HarrisFour members of the Upward Bound program went on to attend the Texas Association of Student Special Services Programs Leadership Conference at Texas State University in San Marcos at the end of the summer.

Guadalupe Munoz and Sophia Kelley of Springtown, Kaitlyn Harris of Graford and Perla Hernandez of Gordon were accompanied by Kahlden at the conference where more than
400 students and staff from all parts of Texas’ federal TRIO programs were in attendance.

The leadership conference included a scholarship essay where Harris received an honorable mention award for her scholarship application and a cash award for her efforts.

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Additionally, outstanding students in the WC Upward Bound program were honored at an awards ceremony at the Doss Student Center. Student awards included:

  • Excellence Award in English – Isaac Meza, Mineral Wells
  • Most Improved Award in English – Tommy Kelleher, Gordon
  • Excellence Award in Mathematics – Jessie Tidwell, Springtown
  • Most Improved Award in Mathematics – Abbi Ramirez, Millsap
  • Excellence Award in Science – David Garcia, Mineral Wells
  • Most Improved Award in Science – Maribel Perez, Mineral Wells
  • Excellence Award in Spanish – Lucas Ringo, Gordon
  • Most Improved Award in Spanish – Miguel Aguilar, Millsap
  • Excellence Award in Test Prep – Perla Hernandez, Gordon
  • Most Improved Award in Test Prep – Josie Houk, Springtown
  • Excellence Award in College Success – Angelica Antonio, Mineral Wells
  • Most Improved Award in College Success – Berenice Munoz, Springtown
  • Excellence Award in Careers and Skills – Brandon Wallace, Mineral Wells
  • Most Improved Award in Careers and Skills – Miguel Aguilar, Millsap
  • Outstanding Freshman Award – Frances Hernandez, Mineral Wells
  • Outstanding Sophomore Award – Perla Hernandez, Gordon
  • Outstanding Junior Award – Lupe Munoz, Springtown
  • Outstanding Bridge Student Award – Jasmin Rojo, Mineral Wells
  • Horizon Award Winner – Andres Hernandez, Gordon
  • Spirit of Upward Bound Award – Frank Hernandez, Mineral Wells

Kahlden also recognized the bridge students who have successfully completed their first semester of college. The bridge program is provided to students who have completed participation in Upward Bound and graduated from their respective high schools. Each student receives a scholarship for six hours of college tuition and fees, books, room and board, and supplies for their completion of the program.

This year’s bridge students are: Frank Hernandez, Orlando Garcia, Jasmin Rojo, Curtis Allred, Peyton Hanlon and Donna Vargas from Mineral Wells High School; Courtney Mayhew, Josue Ramirez and Alaina Coss from Springtown High School; and Lance Winebrinner from Haltom High School.

All 10 of these students are continuing their higher education this fall, seven of them at Weatherford College on full financial aid and scholarship programs.

More than 150 students have aspired to a college-level education through the WC Upward Bound program which is funded through the Federal TRIO grant.

"This grant enables our program to continue to serve students and families that need support to complete their dreams of a college education," Kahlden said. "Our priority is to serve students who need the academic skills needed to prepare them for a quality education.”

TRIO funding allows Upward Bound to serve students in the following high schools: Millsap, Mineral Wells, Springtown, Gordon and Graford. Students from these high schools who are interested in the Upward Bound program can pick up an application from their high school counselor.

For more information about Upward Bound at WC, contact Kahlden at or

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