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Students gain insights during weekend college tour

Twenty-nine Poughkeepsie High School students returned to school this week with new insights about colleges in Central New York, thanks to the Marist College Upward Bound program.

The PHS students, along with nine students from Newburgh Free Academy, spend Sept. 25-27 visiting Binghamton University, SUNY Cortland, Cazenovia College, SUNY Alfred State, Alfred University, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Oswego, Syracuse University, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, and Le Moyne College.

“In addition to visiting colleges, students had local CNY experiences such as seeing Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes, eating at Spiedies (a local Binghamton sandwich shop), and visiting Destiny USA, New York’s largest shopping center,” Upward Bound Director Mario Johnson said.

PHS seniors Josiah Riggins and Gabrihanna Jones said the trip was a valuable experience.

“To be able to see Central New York colleges, especially the ones that are on my list - Binghamton, Le Moyne, Cortland and Syracuse was great. I know which to keep, which to take off and which to add,” said Jones who plans to major in social work and possibly secondary or higher education.

Riggins shared that this experience was different than his tours of local colleges.

“I never had a college tour of such depth and focus as what we did through Upward Bound,” he said, adding, “This trip was eye-opening because it gave you perspective based on what your major is, what type of learner you are.”

PHS Principal Dr. Phee Simpson was grateful her students had the chance to explore the colleges.

“They were able to visit college communities and see the students and how they are living day-to-day,” Simpson said. “It is inspiring and exciting for them to think of themselves next year living the things they experienced.”

Though funding for the Marist program wasn’t renewed, its existing budget runs through Dec. 31.

“It is our intention to continue services and programming in order to prepare our program participants and school seniors for college. College tours are one of the many staple activities that we plan during the academic school year including our six-week summer program at Marist College,” Johnson said.

Jones and Riggins expressed disappointment that the Marist Upward Bound program wasn’t being funded in the coming year. “Upward Bound sticks to its name. It propels students,” Riggins said.

Jones has been in Upward Bound since eighth grade. “It helped me a lot emotionally and academically. This summer we both got to stay on the Marist campus and take college classes there,” she said.