Upward Bound students sample the DSU experience

AMIRA YOUNG, a Flandreau Upward Bound student, solders an LED onto a small circuit board during an introduction to soldering session held Wednesday at Dakota State University. The visiting high school students from Flandreau and Sioux Falls toured the Madison campus and learned about the skills and opportunities available at DSU.

Teenagers from the Flandreau and Sioux Falls areas visited Dakota State University on Wednesday to get ideas about how students learn at the Madison college and what university life is like for students.

The young high school students were participating in an Upward Bound field trip that provided experiences in university life at DSU. According to Emily Crooks, an Upward Bound academic coordinator and trip chaperon, the 32 teenagers involved in the field trip currently attend Flandreau Indian and Flandreau High schools in Flandreau and Washington and Roosevelt high schools in Sioux Falls.

Crooks said the teenagers belonged to families that possess lower-than-average experience with immediate family members attending a post-secondary institution -- such as university, college or technical schools -- after high school graduation.

Upward Bound operates as a federally-funded educational program that is implemented and monitored by the U.S. Department of Education. The program helps certain categories of high school students develop better opportunities to enroll in college.

Upward Bound's categories of greatest concern center on low-income families, families having parents who did not attend college, and students living in rural areas of the United States. The program works through individual grants, and each of the grants covers a restricted geographic area. Upward Bound provides services to about 59,000 students annually.

Samantha Contarino, director of the Sioux Falls-area Upward Bound program and field-trip chaperon, said about 60 high school students participate in the program on a regular basis.

Teenage students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to participate in the Upward Bound program for an entire academic year and a six-week-long summer program.

Many students who join the Upward Bound program are considered first-generation college students; the first in their families to attend a post-secondary school. The program assists students who come from low-income families and/or who attend high schools that have a history of graduates who do not move on to enrolling in college. Upward Bound also offers teenagers opportunities to succeed at a college or technical school.

Jessie Cabarrubia, a junior, and Amira Young, a sophomore, each belong to families with limited experience with post-secondary education. Cabarrubia and Young both attend Flandreau Indian School and toured the DSU campus on Thursday.

Young said as an Upward Bound member, she has also visited South Dakota State University in Brookings and Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown. During the LATI visit, Young learned about the tech school's online courses.

In the afternoon, Eric Holm, DSU computer system administrator, led Young, Cabarrubia and about 15 other Upward Bound students on a tour of the university's data center. Holm explained the use of security devices to protect the computer servers and other equipment in the room, emergency equipment used during power failures, and his responsibilities in maintaining the equipment's operation.

Holm said DSU's research network could currently process computer information about 100 times faster than a typical internet network used in a person's home. After improvements are completed this summer at the Madison university, Holm said the network's speed could increase to 1,000 times faster than a typical internet network.

After the data center tour, the Upward Bound group attended learning sessions that were held in the Beacom Institute of Technology building.

One afternoon session centered on an introduction to soldering, in which students soldered electronic components and other hardware onto a small circuit board to create a decorative badge lit by LEDs.

Another afternoon learning session showed the teenagers how to wire an electronic circuit and control the lighting of an LED with computer software.