They may not be related, but they’re definitely a family.
That’s what any member of the Haskell Upward Bound program will tell you. Thursday night, they gathered on the Lawrence university campus for a powwow in celebration of another successful year.
Haskell Upward Bound, which helps American Indian high school students prepare for higher education, takes on 60 students during its year-long sessions. Carlene Morris, the director of the local organization, said teaching and helping the students has become more than a job.
“It’s working with the students and making that connection with them,” Morris said of seeing students succeed. “It’s a lifelong connection.”
On Thursday that connection brought together hundreds involved with the program, including Upward Bound students from programs with Kansas State University and Nebraska. While the sounds of drums and dancing filled the air, program faculty looked on with pride.
“They all believe,” said K-State student services coordinator Pharamond Guice. “It’s a great thing to watch their minds when they experience something new.”
The program has proved beneficial, as students involved are four times more likely to earn a college degree than other students from similar backgrounds. Morris said the Native American graduation rates are lower than she’d like, something she hopes Upward Bound will help change.
Rebekka Schlichting, a former student in the program, attended Thursday’s event with other Upward Bound alumni. The future KU student said the program pushed her to focus more on academics.
At the end of the day, the hard work and determination was set aside and old-fashioned fun took its place.
“The drive was well worth it,” Guice said.