ENMU program shows college ropes

By Michael Harrell: Freedom Newspapers

Forty-nine high-school students with college-bound minds are attending Eastern New Mexico University’s six-week Upward Bound program. The academic program gears students from low-income families for higher education.

The students live in ENMU residence halls while taking a variety of courses, tour nearby college campuses and take educational trips around the country.

“The purpose is educational and cultural awareness,” said Susan Cramps, the ENMU Upward Bound director.

According to Cramps, the program is a real commitment for high-school teens, whose schoolteachers or counselors recommend them for the program. She said they must come from low-income homes and be the first generation in their families planning to go to college.

At the end of the summer, 40 of the students will travel to Boston to tour Harvard and Boston universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as historical sites and museums.

“I think it’s really getting us ready for college,” said Megan Bumguardner, a 15-year-old from Elida attending the program.

Bumguardner said her favorite class is “History in Song,” a course that dissects the lyrics from “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” a song by hit musician Billy Joel that lists world events from 1949 to 1970.

Throughout the summer, students rotate among learning the basics of three languages: Chinese, Russian and Swahili, the native language of east Africa.

“The foreign languages are to help expose the children to new cultures,” Cramps said.

Morris Sharp, a sophomore attending from Clovis, said he’s in the program to prepare for the next year of high school. Anatomy and Swahili are his favorite courses because they are challenging, he said.
“We know the program is working because students are willing to take more challenging classes,” said Cramps.

Upward Bound has been at ENMU since 1967. Math, science, English and foreign language courses make up the core of the program, though extracurricular activities and career-based classes are included, according to Cramps.

The program continues two Saturdays every month for the rest of the year, she said. Upward Bound is federally funded.