Rhode Island College Upward Bound graduation, June 5

Commencement exercises for the 40 graduates of RIC’s Upward Bound program were held on Tuesday, June 5, at 7:15 p.m. in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall on the RIC campus.

Upward Bound graduates from left: David Hernández Agudelo, Brianna I. Cherry, Joshua M. Tolentino and Darlene A. Cruz.
Upward Bound is a college preparatory program for low-income students that began at RIC in 1966, one of the first programs of its kind in the nation. The program works with several local public schools including Central, Hope and Mount Pleasant High Schools in Providence, Central Falls High School, East Providence High School and Shea High School in Pawtucket.

Graduates List and Scholarship Recipients

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Angela Bannerman Ankoma, a 1993 graduate of Upward Bound, served as commencement speaker. She said it was an “absolute honor” to speak to the 46th class to graduate from Upward Bound, which she called “the next generation of future leaders.”

“The Upward Bound program had a profound impact on my life,” said Bannerman, who has been the state physical activity coordinator for the R.I. Department of Health for over five years. “Upward Bound was critical to my academic success in high school and beyond. I learned strong study skills, how to advocate for myself and navigate the often complicated higher education system as well as made lifelong friends.”

Bannerman also cited several skills she believes Upward Bound gives to its graduates, including passion, vision, courage, perseverance, preparation and self-affirmation.

Angela Bannerman Ankoma '93, commencement speaker.
“Upward Bound has had a consistent formula for success. You are all proof of this,” she added.

This year, 10 of the 40 students had perfect attendance, more than 50 percent of them earned GPAs of 3.25 or higher and all 40 students received college acceptance letters.

Upward Bound director Mariam Z. Boyajian said, “This is an exciting time for the members of the Class of 2012 of the RIC Upward Bound Program. They have excelled in their schools, met the rigorous standards and requirements of the Upward Bound Program and considered their many options for higher education. The entire Upward Bound family is proud of these graduates and wishes them continued success.”

Upward Bound graduates have been accepted to over 60 colleges, and will be attending Brown University, Boston College and Northeastern University, to name just a few. Twelve of the Class of 2012 will be attending RIC in the fall.

At the ceremony, Outstanding Service Awards were given to Maria Monteiro, a 1994 Upward Bound alum and former program counselor and advisor, and Christopher Lord, outgoing principal of Shea High School.

Claudia Erazo-Conrad, an Upward Bound counselor, presented this award to Monteiro, who entered the program 20 years ago as a tenth grader at Mount Pleasant High School. She cited Monteiro as “well-organized, thoughtful and patient.”

Charles Young was a senior when Lord became principal at Shea, and presented him with the award, stating that he was respected for developing a high level of school pride, showing commitment to students and helping Shea to receive an overall positive rating by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

“It was through the eyes of my students that [the Upward Bound] program really came alive,” said Lord. He then began a chant that rang throughout Sapinsley Hall. He said “we are,” and the students added “Upward Bound,” a chant that originated at Shea.

"Upward Bound was critical to my academic success in high school and beyond. I learned strong study skills, how to advocate for myself and navigate the often complicated higher education system as well as made lifelong friends.”
-Angela Bannerman Ankoma '93
Several scholarships were presented to the students as well. Brianna Cooley received $2,000, the highest award of the night. She then gave a speech to her peers about why she should be chosen as a member of the upcoming 2016 Top 50 Alumni from Upward Bound.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo delivered greetings. Program participants also included Gary Penfield, vice president for student affairs, James Salmo, vice president for college advancement, Maureen Lapan and Kenneth Walker, founders of Upward Bound, and Christopher Albert from Sen. Jack Reed’s office.

“I’m extremely proud of this particular program,” said Carriuolo. “You are all special, and will all go on to have wonderful careers.”

Penfield asked the graduates a series of questions to which they were asked to raise their hands to answer yes.

He asked students, “How many of you are happy? How many of you have worked hard to succeed? How many of you have been changed by this experience? How many of you believe you are stronger as a result of this? How many of you are ready to move on to the next set of challenges in college?” All 40 Upward Bound students raised their hands for each question.

“With every junction in the road comes to challenges. I know you are all prepared to meet those challenges,” Penfield added.

Recently, Upward Bound at RIC received over $622,000 in federal funding, which will ensure the program will continue for the next five years to help future high school students develop the skills and motivation necessary to graduate from high school and enter and complete a post-secondary education.

The program offers comprehensive services, including college preparation courses, tutoring, academic counseling and advising, and guidance in completing college admissions and financial aid applications.

Graduates of Upward Bound have a 100 percent high school graduation rate, a post-secondary enrollment rate of 98.6 percent and a post-secondary retention/graduation rate of 76.5 percent. Oscar-nominated actress and RIC graduate Viola Davis and her sister, Deloris Davis Grant, an educator and RIC’s 2012 Alumna of the Year, are among the program’s many accomplished alumni.