A first-generation college student, George Fields has been giving back to the program that encouraged and assisted him in his pursuit of higher education for the last five years. Upward Bound, a federal grant program funded through the US Department of Education, works to educate, and assist local high school students in their efforts to attend college. However, unlike other assistance service programs, Upward Bound works almost exclusively with low-income or potential first-generation college students.
Math and Science Upward Bound is one of the five similarly related programs hosted at UT. Math and Science Upward Bound is grant-funded to assist and coach up to 100 students from the regional East Tennessee area, spanning six counties including Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Sevier, and Union counties. Fields has been working with Math and Science Upward Bound, as a tutor of all subjects, a summer counselor, and an educational specialist. Since beginning graduate school in the political science department, Fields has maintained his service to the program, volunteering with them on a monthly basis since 2019.
Fields plans and facilitates workshops covering various topics useful in preparing for college life, including financial literacy, understanding healthcare, STEM, and community service, among others. Other functions of the program that he is involved in include college visits, five of which the program does a year, and a six-week residential program on campus, during which student participants live on campus and experience the closest thing to college first-hand, being responsible for class scheduling and time management, learning to budget on a college campus, and socializing with others inside and outside of the classroom.
Fields attributes a lot of success to being part of the program and is a strong proponent of the efficacy of after-school government assistance programs and the positive effect they have on student communities.