Nickels Scholarship Honors Courage, Supports Ambition

By Jessica Lyons

Helping Students Make it to College

The federally-funded Upward Bound program at Pacific University, a school founded in 1849 that has an enrollment of 3,368, had been in existence for about 40 years before the chapter was closed in 2007. According to the university's website, the program 'provided fundamental support, academic skills and motivation for high school students from low-income families to prepare for college entrance.' During its many years of existence, Upward Bound at Pacific University helped more than 2,000 students reach their goals.

Roberta 'Bobbi' Nickels, a 1970 graduate of Pacific University, headed the program for 37 years, right up until its 2007 closing. During her time as program director, she was able to raise more than $7 million to benefit Upward Bound grants.

Program Forced to Close

Pacific University made the 'difficult decision to discontinue operation' of its Upward Bound program because it opposed new ways the government wanted to handle and evaluate the program, which had already been impacted by funding cuts. In order to evaluate the program's effectiveness, it would have to recruit more students, some of which would be put in a control group and wouldn't actually receive program services.

In 2007, Nickels told, 'It just seems like there's no integrity in dangling carrots in front of people who can't participate, especially low-income people.' As the program's end grew closer, Nickels, who had helped so many students through Upward Bound, told The Forest Grove News-Times, 'It's just going to be hard not to be there.'

Still Helping Students

Although the program's closure may have resulted in Nickels' retirement, her dedicated efforts did not go unnoticed by others. Pacific University, which states that 95% of its undergraduates are awarded financial aid, created The Roberta Nickels Scholarship as a way to continue to help the low-income students she had assisted throughout her 37 years as director of Upward Bound. To help support this mission, will be recognizing the scholarship as its 'Charity of the Month.'

Find out how the Carson Scholars Fund is promoting academic achievement.

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