Selected Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound Program participants recently attended the 23rd Annual WV TRIO Student Leadership Conference, held March 1-3 at the Days Inn Hotel & Conference Center in Flatwoods, WV. The theme for this year’s conference was “Tethering Dreams to Reality.”

Kelsey Martin, D&E Upward Bound participant from Tygarts Valley High School, noted after attending the conference, “This experience taught me that leaders don’t have to be strong all the time. Showing vulnerability is a good quality of a leader.”

Students attended dynamic workshops that addressed communication skills, different leadership styles, and strategies for effective problem-solving. Students also had the opportunity to practice networking by meeting other TRIO students from Maryland and West Virginia. Students learned about the different TRIO programs and ways to advocate for TRIO’s mission. On the final day, participants offered their personal stories through letters and earlier essays sharing the impact of how TRIO has affected their lives.

Our nation has asserted a commitment to supplying educational opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic circumstance. In support of this commitment, Congress set up a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate, and move on to take part more fully in America’s economic and social life. These Programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRIO Programs (initially just three programs). While student financial aid programs help students overcome financial barriers to higher education, TRIO programs help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.

Miranda Gum, a D&E UB student from Pocahontas County High School noted, “Attending this conference was very eye-opening to me. It showed me that no matter who you are or what your background is, you are worthy enough to be a leader.”

Lucas Pose, Phillip Barbour UB student stated, “I learned skills that will benefit me in college. I had an amazing time and would absolutely recommend this opportunity to future students.” Leah Bennett, Pendleton County High School UB student, also noted, “The conference was wonderful…it helped me become more confident…there are many different ways you can be a leader.”

A common thread of “TRIO changed my life and the trajectory of my life” has repeatedly been heard across our nation, reports D&E Upward Bound Director Carol Suder-Howes. “Upward Bound participants enter and complete postsecondary training or college well above both state and national averages.
Bailey Cale, a Tucker County UB student, noted, “It’s a leader’s job to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and to make decisions accordingly. Empathy, passion, and effective communication are important and often overlooked traits in a leader who can help a team towards a shared goal.”

Attending the 2024 WV TRIO Student Leadership Conference from Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound Programs from left to right front row were: Celis Tanner from Pocahontas County High School, Bailey Cale from Tucker County High School, back row from left Carol Suder-Howes, D&E Upward Bound Programs Director, Nicholas Carpenter from Elkins High School, Miranda Gum, Pocahontas County High School, Kelsey Martin, Tygarts Valley High, Leah Bennett from Pendleton County High School and Chelsey Toms Academic Advisor Barbour, Randolph and Tucker Counties UB grant and Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel President-Elect.

The Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound programs were pleased to honor and recognize two students during the Dr. Anne Crum Leadership Banquet. Bailey Cale, a junior at Tucker County High School, and Celis Tanner, a junior at Pocahontas County High School. Bailey and Celis were selected to be recipients of the Dr. Anne Crum Scholarship because of their dedication to the D&E Upward Bound program and their commitment to success. Dr. Crum was the Director of the Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound Programs until her battle with cancer ended in 1999. Celis explained, “I learned how to be a leader alongside my peers. Leadership isn’t just about confidence or networking…it is finding that group to turn to for criticism and show of vulnerability to, taking time to learn and grow from your experience…and most importantly, being able to determine the rights and wrongs in an environment and knowing when to speak up.”

100% Funded by two Title IV grants from the US Department of Education totaling $799,156 (Pendleton/Pocahontas $309,505, and Randolph/Barbour/Tucker $489,651), project services are free to eligible students. Upward Bound is an Equal Opportunity in Education project that is in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Educational Amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the West Virginia Human Rights Act, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, gender identification, or genetic information or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.