Teaching & Learning

"Upward Bound" Helped Give San Juan County Attorney His Start

Consider it the Kendall “Laws” of Physics: an upward bound motion requires forward momentum.

For this Monticello-born, Blanding-raised boy, part of that momentum came from academic support programs such as “Upward Bound,” now celebrating 50 years of nudging kids forward.

Of course Laws’ parents had a little something to do with that momentum too. His mom attended one year of college and his dad went to trade school to become a heavy machinery mechanic. Money was always tight at home. They knew that their children’s best hope for getting through college would be through scholarships. That meant making sure they buckled down and got the grades.  

Following in the footsteps of his older brothers, Laws dutifully did just that ? plus football, basketball, track, tennis, Future Business Leaders of America, yearbook editor, and senior class officer. Before he knew it, this perpetual motion machine was off to Utah State University with an associate’s degree in hand from the College of Eastern Utah, San Juan Campus (now Utah State University Eastern, Blanding) and then on to graduating from the University of Wyoming College of Law. Today he continues in the same forward direction as the newly elected San Juan County Attorney.

And yes, it is exactly the special boost that Upward Bound intends as one of several college access programs available to young people today, said Teresa Frazier, director of Upward Bound with USU Eastern Blanding Campus.

Upward Bound is a federal-funded educational program that serves high school students from low-income families and students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. It is one of several college access programs known collectively as “TRIO” projects that were established under President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 War on Poverty, Frazier said.

Today, almost 1,000 programs across America serve more than 80,000 students from demographic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education. USU Eastern Blanding Campus currently houses Upward Bound, Talent Search and Student Support Services.

Upward Bound projects provide tutoring, academic counseling, cultural enrichment, financial guidance and other services needed to promote success at the high school and college levels.

“The ultimate goal of these programs is to increase the rate at which participants complete high school and enroll in and graduate from college or other institutions of higher learning,” Frazier said.

USU Eastern Blanding began administrating Upward Bound in 1989. It has since served more than 800 high school students from the Four Corners area. Currently the program includes 100 students in San Juan School District and Red Mesa High School in Arizona. Twenty-four Upward Bound seniors graduated this year from area high schools. Since then, 20 have enrolled and are completing their first semester at various colleges in the state, Frazier said.

“The Upward Bound program succeeds because of many individuals,” said Sheri Montella, Upward Bound coordinator with USU Eastern Blanding. “These include parents, grandparents, families, school staff, administrators, teachers, summer counselors and especially those who have daily contact with students.”

Laws said his older brother got involved in the TRIO programs beginning in the sixth grade and paved the way for him. He went on to participate in Educational Talent Search in middle school and Upward Bound in high school.

Talent Search gave him a running start from middle to high school by providing career exploration and academic advising. Once in high school, he was able to get college credit during his summers of Upward Bound and additional advising and opportunities to tour colleges during the school year.

“By the time I graduated high school, I had a head start on choosing where I wanted to go to school,” Laws said. “I had obtained approximately a year’s worth of credits toward my degree. I had no stress making the transition from high school to college and I attribute a lot of that to my experiences in Talent Search and Upward Bound.”

Frazier said she takes great pride in Upward Bound graduates, such as Laws, who have persevered to receive bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees.

Yep, objects in motion, all.

Contact: Teresa Frazier, 435-678-8175; teresa.frazier@usu.edu

Writer: John DeVilbiss, 435-797-1358; john.devilbiss@usu.edu

Kendall Laws

Kendall Laws is Blanding-raised graduate from the College of Eastern Utah, San Juan Campus (now USU Eastern, Blanding), USU in Logan and the University Of Wyoming College of Law. Today he is the newly elected San Juan County Attorney.


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