There are more than 200 Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) programs in the United States, almost all operated by colleges and universities. The program’s focus is to help children who come from low-income households, or who would be the first in their families to pursue post-secondary education, achieve their college and career goals.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in the country that has its own UBMS. It’s part of Nationwide Children’s effort to not only provide high-quality health care, but to have an impact on children’s overall well-being. The hospital’s UBMS is funded through the U.S. Department of Education to support as many as 60 students.
UBMS provides tutoring, mentoring, academic advising, help in applying for financial aid and experiential learning activities. UBMS partners with existing Nationwide Children’s programs to provide internships that allow students to network with doctors, scientists, and various staff with roles within STEM fields.
The COVID-19 pandemic, though, put a damper on what can be a highlight for some students who have never left central Ohio: a college tour.
In July, for the first time in more than three years, young members of Nationwide Children’s UBMS visited colleges, this time in the Washington D.C. area. Three hospital staff members and 11 students – including two rising 9th graders – checked out Georgetown University and Howard University, spent some time on the Washington Mall, and had a first-in-their lifetimes experience.
“We are trying to give our students exposure to college, to careers, that they may not get any other way,” said Maxine Ignacio, Project Director for UBMS. “Though most of the students tend not to express their excitement with “wows” and big smiles, when speaking with the students, they shared how much they appreciate the experience.”
The itinerary was packed so that the students could get the most out of the trip. There were 14- and 15-hour days; guided tours of the universities; a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; a special VIP dinner. Some students were even able to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
Ignacio hopes this is the first of many future tours. There were learnings, of course, including a reassessment of the number of activities you can reasonably pack into a day for teenagers.
“We’re trying to not only make this a college tour, but to also give them a full experience,” said Ignacio. “These kinds of trips are impactful for many students as they think about their adult lives, and we want to make sure our UBMS students have access to these opportunities.”
“We are trying to give our students exposure to college, to careers, that they may not get any other way. Though most of the students tend not to express their excitement with “wows” and big smiles, when speaking with the students, they shared how much they appreciate the experience.”