Upward Bound Math Science program impacts the lives of high school students

 Program participants engage in discussion about science model. 
Photo credit: Zaychina Nance 

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) program is changing the lives of high school students by increasing student’s participation and success rates in mathematics and science pre-college courses.

UBMS, also known at FAMU as the Regional Institute for Math and Science (RIMS) program, is a federally funded program sponsored by the United States Department of Education. UBMS is a subset program that is a part of FAMU’s TRIO Academic Support Center.

TRIO is a federal outreach and student services program designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO programs seek to ease a student’s transition into collegiate life and aid in increasing retention among the students served by the program.

Students can join UBMS, which is currently funded to serve 70 students, the summer before entering ninth grade and are encouraged to stay throughout high school graduation.

According to Zaychina Nance, UBMS program director, the program has been on FAMU’s campus for at least 25 years and has served over 1,000 students. Nance, who was also a first-generation college student, encourages students to take as many rigorous college preparation courses as they can, such as International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and dual-enrollment courses.

“We want the students to get a feel for what actual college courses are like, and our goal is to ensure that the students in the program are college ready when they complete the program,” Nance said.

Program participants during RIMS summer field trip.
Photo credit: Zaychina Nance 

93 percent of the graduating seniors of UBMS’s 2016 class enrolled in post-secondary education institutions the fall after their graduation, 13 percent higher than the program’s approved objective rating of 80 percent.

UBMS not only helps students academically, the program also helps students build character and motivates them to be positive examples in their communities.

Jalen Sanders, a high school junior and third-year program participant, created his own mentoring club Brother to Brother, Sister to Sister, after being encouraged by a motivational speaker who spoke to the UBMS students. Sanders, who is also his class president, credits the program for much of his success.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t go through this program. It has molded me to be a better person and a better student,” Sanders added. “The trips we take, the tutoring, the motivational speakers, the people I’ve met from the program have all had a positive impact on my life.”

Throughout the program, students are able to receive standardized test preparation, after-school tutoring, career planning, college admissions assistance and financial aid assistance. Participants are also able to go on educational and cultural trips through the six-week summer residential program.

Jay’Shree Harris, a senior studying social work at FAMU, is currently working in the Other Personnel Service position under UBMS’s program director. She is a graduate of the UBMS program and is thankful that the summer residential program pulled her out of her comfort zone.

“Since we didn’t have phones, I would email my mother every day asking her to come get me, because I didn’t know anyone. Around the third week there, I finally got comfortable and began making friends,” Harris said. “It’s cool because I still see and speak to the people that I made connections with back then around campus.”