Upward Bound<BR>Program offers refresher course to college-bound veterans
PRESCOTT – It's been 22 years since Terry Brawner sat in a high school classroom.
To be sure, he has learned a lot about life since then. Through three years in the military, and almost 20 years in construction jobs, Brawner has plenty of life experience.
But the rigors of the classroom are a life-time away. Beginning this month, Brawner will get a crash course to remind him of those days of math equations, sentence structures, and basic computer use.
And that will help to prepare him for his ultimate objective – college.
Brawner is one of about 20 veterans set to start the summer semester of the Vet-eran's Upward Bound Project, which is a GED (General Education Development) college preparatory program for military veterans.
Jake Lindsay, program director of the Upward Bound Project at the campus of the Prescott Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, pointed out that the program aims to help veterans who are at a crossroads in their lives.
For various reasons, the veterans who are involved in the program want to go back to school. But that can be a daunting prospect for someone who has been out of the classroom for years.
"This is a training ground for veterans who have been out of school for five, 10, 15 years," Lindsay said. "They are afraid because there is so much water under the bridge."
The program's participants may be 40 or 45 years old, with their career prospects evaporating. "Their careers may be obsolete now," Lindsay said.
Lindsay pointed out that the semester of GED training immerses the participants in several core areas – English and literature; math up to pre-calculus; science; and beginning computer.
After brushing up on the basics, most of the Upward Bound participants then go on to college.
Lindsay pointed out that the financing for Upward Bound comes through the U.S. Education Depart-ment.
One of the requirements for the grant is that at least 70 percent of the Upward Bound participants continue on to college.
While the program is a Depart-ment of Education program, it also involves other agencies.
Lindsay's office is at the Prescott Vet-eran's Affairs Medical Center, and the classes take place at Yavapai College.
Lindsay said the Upward Bound semesters run concurrently with those at the college. He hires adjunct professors to teach the courses. "The students have full use of all the facilities of Yavapai College," Lindsay said.
Prior to the start of each Upward Bound semester, the program gives pre-assessment tests to the applicants. "That gives us a snap-shot of their education," Lindsay said, "and it tells us whether they need these classes."
All of the Upward Bound classes are remedial, and none count for college credits. But they can help pave the way for a successful college experience, Lindsay said. Along with the basics, participants learn study skills.
Brawner, who served in the military from 1978 to 1981, said he closely fits the profile for Upward Bound participants. For instance, Brawner recently had to leave his long-time job in construction be-cause of back surgery.
"I can't return to that field," Brawner said. "I want to get a new career."
Starting next week, Brawner will take classes in math, English, and computers. He hopes that will prepare him for college courses he plans to take later in land surveying.
Brawner acknowledges that it's been a while since he had to attend classes and do homework, but he is fairly confident that his life experiences will help him apply what he learns more effectively than during his high school years.
That is typical of older students, Lindsay said. Although they might be rusty on the some of the basics, most take to the classes quickly. "They're so motivated – they're just sponges," Lindsay said.
The Veteran's Upward Bound Project has existed since 1972, and the Prescott program is one of 45 in the nation. Lindsay's office covers five counties in northern Arizona, and another program exists in Tucson.
The program is geared toward low-income veterans or those who would be the first generation in their families to receive a baccalaureate degree.
The Prescott program is fairly new. The first full semester just finished with 37 enrollees.
Brawner is happy to be included in the second semester of the program.
"I'm very anxious to get started," he said. "I have to start somewhere, and this is my best shot. This is the rest of my life I'm working for."
Anyone interested in participating in Upward Bound should call Lindsay's office at 717-7687.