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Pre-College Upward Bound (PCUB)

The Pre-College Upward Bound (PCUB) project is designed to help low-income, potential first-generation college students to graduate from high school and to enroll in a postsecondary institution of their choice that aligns well with their educational and professional goals. Experiences shared while participating in PCUB lay a groundwork that fosters college entrance, persistence, and graduation. Activities and services include tutoring, ACT preparation, college and career information, instruction in academics, cultural enrichment, and one-on-one social counseling on individual development plans (i.e., vision, mission, values, goals, assessment of personal strengths and possible barriers to face, and steps to take to progress satisfactorily toward goals), and six-week summer programs at UT Knoxville that provide students a chance to expericence what college may be like. By the time they graduate from high school, they are much better equipped to make better postsecondary decisions and to deal effectively with college life.

Service Area

The PCUB serves students in Knox County (Carter, South-Doyle, and West High Schools), Blount County (Heritage, and William Blount High Schools), and Sevier County (Sevier County High).

Former Students

Knox County Assistant District Attorney Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, a noted prosecuting attorney, credits UT Knoxville's PCUB program as an important part of her early academic preparation that enabled her to earn her JD. She completed her undergraduate work at UT, studying political science and African American history. She graduated from UT's College of Law in 1998 and started working at the Knox County District Attorney's office, where she became the first black female to serve as an Assistant DA.

Twin brothers Chad Calendine and Cory Calendine have fulfilled their dreams of successful medical careers. The brothers earned their bachelor's degrees at Freed-Hardeman University and their medical degrees at the University of Tennessee. Chad completed his residency and fellowship at Emory University Hospital. He is now a practicing physician in Nashville, with specialties in diagnostic radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, and breast imaging. Cory completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He also completed a year of subspecialty training in hip and knee replacement in Washington, DC. He was a laboratory researcher for the National Institutes of Health and is currently practicing with the Vanderbilt Bone and Joint Clinic in Franklin, Tennessee.


The PCUB program accepts applications and nominations from students in the ninth and tenth grades. Students entering the PCUB program must be enrolled in one of the high schools in the service area (see left) and must be endorsed by their school counselor and teachers. Two-thirds of the project participants must meet family income guidelines established by the federal government and be potential first-generation college students (that is, have parents without a four-year college degree). The other one-third must meet one of the eligibility criteria.

Through the Years

The PCUB program was funded by the US Department of Education to serve high school students in grades nine through twelve. Dr. Ernest W. Brewer wrote the initial discretionary Upward Bound grant in 1981, which at that time was funded for a one-year period. When federal regulations changed, Dr. Brewer's subsequent UB grants were funded for multiple years.

Since the initial year of funding, the project has served over 2,500 program participants.

Upon acceptance into PCUB, students make a commitment to:

  • Attend weekly check-in meetings with PCUB staff members at their high school
  • Attend ten Saturday sessions, which include academic classes and cultural activities such as plays and museum tours
  • Attend field trips to various colleges and universities throughout the year
  • Complete a rigorous college preparation curriculum at their high school each semester
  • Achieve the highest possible grade point average (GPA) throughout their high school years
  • Attend a six-week summer experience at UT Knoxville. This typically includes at least one blended learning week (i.e., a combination of face-to-face and online teaching and learning activities and assignments), two to four weeks of residence on campus and enrollment in a mini-term curriculum, and a three-day trip in the final week to visit other campuses, to gain a better understanding of that local area - it's history and culture, and to engage in activites that encourage and improve physical fitness, social skills, communication, and resilience in adapting to differing environments and in facing carious challenges.
  • Graduate from high school and enroll in the postsecondary program of education that will fulfill their academic and career goals

The Bridge Scholars component offers a unique opportunity for students who excel during their PCUB experience. High school seniors apply to be a PCUB Bridge Scholar in early January. Students selected as Bridge Scholars attend UT Knoxville during the summer immediately following their high school graduation. Students may take up to eight semester hours of credit coursework. Tutoring and counseling support are also provided through the PCUB office. The Upward Bound Project pays all tuition, room and board, books, and fees, which amounts to nearly $5,000 per student!

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