Upward Bound student Sarah Kinnard — who is preparing to graduate from Springtown High School and Weatherford College — has always had a special fascination with language.
But she was already in high school before she truly began to explore her emerging passion for different cultures, and it grew even further when she began college-level Spanish courses at WC.
Now, Kinnard hopes to take her love for linguistics and shape it into a lifelong career.
“I want to be an interpreter and learn many languages fluently,” Kinnard said. “But I hope to start with Arabic, because it’s one of the harder languages that can take me anywhere from working in the government as an interpreter to working privately with corporate interests.”
Having recently accepted a full-ride scholarship to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York — one of the most prestigious universities in the nation with an acceptance rate of only 27 percent — the high school senior attributes most of her educational success to the college’s Upward Bound pre-college program.
A federally funded TRIO program, Upward Bound at WC serves 55 underrepresented college students across Parker and Palo Pinto counties. Participating students stay on campus for six weeks each summer, where they learn math, English, science and foreign languages; explore life lessons; and tour universities.
Kinnard said her program leaders also maintain regular contact with her throughout the school year. They visit her campus each week and host monthly sessions to ensure all their students are on track for academic success, she said.
The high school senior has been part of the Upward Bound program since she was a freshman.
“I can vividly remember interviewing her as a part of her application process into Upward Bound and thinking to myself that she was a very intelligent student that had a very well-read attitude about herself,” said Jeff Kahlden, former Upward Bound director. “She seemed to be a student that was going to be going places.”
The opportunities Upward Bound provided her, she said, have changed her life for the better.
“It’s really fleshed out a lot of different areas of knowledge for me,” Kinnard said. “It expanded my abilities in many areas, and it connected me with broader ideas that relate more closely with what I want to do in a way that helps me.”
For example, Economics was never a course she enjoyed, but the Upward Bound program sculpted the subject into something more applicable to her professional goals.
Professor Laura Cummins said she’s taught Kinnard in both financial literacy through the Upward Bound program and in dual credit Spanish.
“I’ve taught her two very different subjects,” Cummins said. “She’s always been hardworking and diligent to do her best.”
She described Kinnard as a self-starter, always willing to go the extra mile to achieve her goals.
From emailing her professor for clarity on an assignment to choosing to participate in programs like Upward Bound, Cummins applauds Kinnard’s drive to better herself.
“From my perspective, I’m impressed that Sarah has taken advantage of so many opportunities,” Cummins said. “I’m very proud of her hard work.”
Springtown High School Principal Megan Hutchison echoed the accolades of Cummins, commending Kinnard for her academic achievement and extracurricular success.
Kinnard has won several awards through her participation in UIL Academics, Business Professionals of America, Tech Club and One Act Play, Hutchison said.
“There is no doubt that Colgate University saw what we see firsthand with Sarah on a daily basis,” Hutchison said. She is smart, driven and talented, and her willingness to set goals and exceed them leads me to believe there will be no limit to her achievements in the future.
“We are excited to see where her future leads her and the impact she makes on the world around her,” Hutchison added.
The Upward Bound Program at Weatherford College is 100 percent federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education for $297,601 annually. The program welcomes and encourages participation by interested individuals regardless of race, national origin, gender or disability.