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Upward Bound Programs host 2020 Virtual Summer Academy

The Upward Bound Programs at Morehead State recently hosted their 54th summer with 227 virtual participants.   

The virtual academy was designed to be a reflection of the six-week residential academy the program hosts each summer on campus. Students spent their days engaged in classes, workshops, and activities. Resident advisors who would normally live in the residence halls with students mentored students virtually and led activities from book clubs and dance to culinary skills. Instructors were hired to teach classes that included robotics, orbital mechanics, survival science, satellite communications, FBI profiling, and screen playwriting. "We were able to adapt most of the components that make our program special into a virtual academy," said Amanda Lewis, director of the Upward Bound programs at MSU.   

The Upward Bound Programs are an academic pre-college program that helps prepare students interested in attending post-secondary education after they graduate high school. They serve a large area in rural Kentucky.   

"This summer presented some unique challenges, so we had to come up with some creative solutions to meet the needs of our participants," Lewis said, adding students' internet accessibility and lack of technology along with having a platform that could support and host the classes, workshops, and activities created some of the biggest challenges.   

"We were very lucky to have the full support of the University behind us in order to overcome these challenges so that students could participate."  

To keep students engaged during the summer, staff were in constant contact with their students.   

"I believe I had more individual contact with my students this summer than I get during a residential summer. Every day a new obstacle would pop up that we would need to tackle, so we were in constant contact," said Ashley Cooper, associate director of Upward Bound Math Science North.  

Of the 227, 15 students completed the program's Bridge program.   

"Our students continually overcome diversity and this summer was no different. They faced the challenges of being new college students while doing it all online during a global pandemic with grace and have come out stronger for it," Shayla Ring, academic Bridge coordinator said. We are incredibly proud of their grades, dedication to higher education, and joyful attitudes when faced with new experiences."   

The Bridge program allows participants who recently graduated high school to earn six college credit hours for free. It is designed to bridge the gap between high school graduation and fall post-secondary enrollment.   

The Upward Bound programs at MSU serve high school students in Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Harrison, Johnson, Lawrence, Lewis, Magoffin, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Robertson and Rowan counties. Students can join the program in their freshman or sophomore years and stay in the program throughout high school. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2020-21 academic year.  

Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science and the Bridge program are funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored by MSU. There are no costs associated with participating in the program. 

For more information about the Upward Bound Programs, please contact, Amanda Lewis, director at, call 606-783-9329 or visit