Grants help students achieve dreams, one story of success - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Grants help students achieve dreams, one story of success

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Benedict College is getting $3.4 million to help students go to college.

The money will benefit the school's Upward Bound program.   It's a program one school administrator said she relates to personally.

Vareva Harris said the program shaped her path to where she is today, a Benedict College administrator.

"The upward bound program for me has been life-changing," said Harris.

20 years ago, she was a high school sophomore in Woodruff, South Carolina.

She wanted to go to college, but the odds were stacked against her: She had a 1.9 gpa and her family was broke.

"Growing up in a poor background you don't even really know you're poor," said Harris.
"Because everyone around you is in the same situation."

But then she enrolled in Upward Bound at USC Spartanburg. It's a grant funded program that supports underprivileged kids.  The program takes them on college tours and strengthens their academics.

"That's when I made my first A in a class in chemistry, physics, writing," she said.  "I knew at that point the Upward Bound staff tapped into something that I could believe in about myself which is that I could be an academically smart student."

Harris later completed her college career at Benedict and even served as a counselor for Upward Bound students.

"We're not judging students on where they come from," said Harris. "We meet them where they are to get them to where they need to be."

As she pursues her doctorate, Harris still works with the grant funded program now as the college's VP of Government Sponsored Programs.

The money will help students from seven midlands high schools become college bound.  It's a journey Harris knows first hand.

"You can do it," she said.

For more information on the Upward Bound program, call 803-705-4555.

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