By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - Going to college can be hard, and being the first one in a family to go to college can be even harder.
But Indian River State College is making it a little easier for some students.
The facility recently received $2.8 million to help 165 students in St. Lucie and Indian River counties achieve their goals of going to college.
The money will be used in the Upward Bound program, which provides disadvantaged youth with the skills necessary to not only be successful in high school, but to prepare to be successful in college, as well.
"Upward Bound is one of the programs that came out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964," said Adriene Jefferson-Dover, dean of minority affairs at Indian River State College. "The program has been here since 1995."
The goal of the program is to increase the graduation rate of high school students, as well as increase the graduation rate of college students.
"Over the life of the program, 1,122 students have been served in St. Lucie County," she said. "We are currently serving 205 students."
The program has high results. According to the data, 91 percent of the students in the program graduated high school and enrolled in college.
The college actually operates three Upward Bound programs, two regular programs and one geared toward math and science.
"The Upward Bound math and science is designed to help students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science, and to pursue postsecondary degrees, and ultimately, careers in those fields," she said.
The students selected into an Upward Bound program must reside in St. Lucie or Indian River counties. Also, the family must meet specific income guidelines, neither parent can have obtained a four-year college degree and the student must demonstrate a need for financial support.
"There's a recruitment process in the eighth-grade middle schools, as well as targeted high schools for students to learn about the program," Ms. Jefferson-Dover said.
"Students are then asked to fill out applications, which are screened by a committee. The student will then undergo an interview process with their parent."
In addition to the many programs that are offered to students throughout the school year, they also take part in a six-week summer residential program where they live on a college campus and learn in a college environment.
For more information on the Upward Bound program, call the school at (866) 792-4772 or go online to www.irsc.edu.