Rusty R Brown
MEEOA 2015 Achiever, COE 2014 Policy Seminar Alumni
When writing on the impact of my Upward Bound program participation as it relates to my academic and professional lives, I can honestly say it has been the pivotal factor that led to my success in receiving both my undergraduate and graduate degrees and shaping my career in higher education as an academic counselor. The help and support I received during my time as an Upward Bound student prepared and motivated me to achieve my goal of a college education and instilled a sense of the importance of choosing a career for myself that would allow me to give back in as helpful and inspirational manner as I had received.
As a sophomore at Belfast Area High School, circa 1992, with a 53 average (that’s right, no typo) I must admit that I was “floundering” a bit with my educational path. I was fortunate enough to have had a guidance counselor who mentioned to me (as I returned from a 3 day out of school suspension) a program called Upward Bound that might be helpful for me in turning myself around and getting serious about my school work. I applied in the spring of 1992, was accepted and attended my first summer program. After that amazing summer experience, I was on the honor role for the rest of my high school career, graduating with an 85 average (30 whole points higher than prior to UB). I participated enthusiastically in every UB event and summer program until I graduate in June 1994, with acceptance to the University of Maine as a History major for the Fall of 1994.
I stayed in touch with my UB program throughout my undergraduate degree at UM and upon graduating Cum Laude in May 1998 with a degree in Secondary Education, I had the pleasure of working for my Upward Bound program that summer as a Work Experience coordinator. I then started graduate school at UM in Counselor Education and was able to have a graduate assistantship with UB for the duration of my Master’s work. That led to a fulltime job as an Upward Bound counselor from 2001 to 2012 (with a year away from UB to pursue and receive my State of Maine Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor licensure). I felt very honored and privileged to work with the program that truly changed my life in the most positive ways. I was able to give back and help students achieve their dreams of going to college and creating the lives they wanted to live. Alas, all good things sometimes do come to an end, and in 2012 the UM Classic Upward Bound program was defunded, and I found myself looking for work that would be as fulfilling as my Upward Bound job had been, a tough act to follow.
Fortunately I continue my professional passion of helping other’s in my current position with Eastern Maine Community College as Coordinator of Advising Services. My time as an Upward Bound student has set the stage for my personal and professional success. The lessons I learned then, and still carry with me today, have guided my work both as a person and as a professional and I can whole heartedly say UB was, and continues to be the inspiration that leads me to do good work, in my part of the world. It has been my privilege and pleasure to call myself a UB alumni, and I am eternally grateful to have had this guiding experiences in my life.
Rusty R. Brown, M.Ed., NCC