OSUIT, Okmulgee
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee provides resources to public school students to help them prepare for college. (NonDoc)

Graduating with a few college credits already completed can give high school students a significant head start in their education and career.

In Okmulgee, students have the opportunity to get some of those credits — and a number of other services from the nearby Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.

OSUIT primarily exists to offer associates and bachelor degrees in applied technology fields. But, in collaboration with Quality Educational Services for Today and Tomorrow, a non-profit with a mission of providing northeast Oklahoma students with educational services, it also runs a program called Upward Bound. The program provides support to public school students via concurrent enrollment, ACT coaching and testing, financial aid advising, college fairs and more. Additionally, the Upward Bound Summer College program offers students a simulated college experience, complete with dorm rooms and cafeteria meals.

OSUIT liaison Angie Been has assisted students through their educational journey at OSUIT for the last 23 years. Been currently serves as a writing tutor, adjunct faculty and oversees two summer college programs at the university, including the Upward Bound program.

The following conversation with Been has been edited for length and style.

Tell me about the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology generally and the community of students that it serves.

OSUIT’s mission is “to serve as the lead institution of higher education in Oklahoma and the region, providing comprehensive, high-quality, advancing technology programs and services to prepare and sustain a diverse student body as competitive members of a world-class workforce and contributing members of society.”

OSUIT serves students who are typically first-generation college students or non-traditional students. These students want to earn an associate in applied science (technical degree) or take courses toward an associate in science to transfer to complete a four-year degree.

What is the goal of the OSUIT Upward Bound Summer College program?

The partnership goal is to provide a simulated college experience for first-generation college students to prepare them to enter college. The targeted counties are Adair, Cherokee, Muskogee, and Sequoyah. This past summer, 21 students were serviced. However, the program in previous years serviced 30 to 40 students.

Tell me more about this opportunity for students.

The five-week program introduces students to college by allowing them to live in the dorms, use the cafeteria services for meals, and attend college courses. The students participate in composition/literature, mathematics, science, college survival skills, small group communication and American Sign Language (ASL). Each year some of the courses change, except the core courses of math and science.

Students who qualify for concurrent classes also take a three-credit college course each summer during the five-weeks tuition-free. OSUIT waives the tuition for the concurrent students. This past summer, 11 students earned credit for introductory psychology (PSYC 1113), which transfers to any college in Oklahoma.

The students also take a cultural, educational day trip each year and can earn a week-long educational trip through QuESTT and the Upward Bound program.

What other programs are offered by OSUIT to support public school students, specifically students in Okmulgee and the surrounding area? 

The campus offers other summer academy programs such as the Emerging and Converging Summer Academy and other STEM-related academies.

What is your favorite memory from your time working with the Upward Bound program?

I have worked with Upward Bound for several years as a faculty member. This was my first year to fulfill the role as the OSUIT liaison. One of my favorite memories is helping students make decisions about college, which I know will impact not only their lives but also future generations. Helping them realize the potential they have within themselves is rewarding.