Giving veterans an upward hand

Amber Quaid/The Arka Tech Left to right: Alan Parsons and Allison Sims are academic advisers and Kristie Wilson is the director of Verterans Upward Bound, a new program to help veterans.

As one of fewer than 60 schools chosen for the 2017-22 Veterans Upward Bound grant program, Arkansas Tech University has opened a new office to help veterans succeed at all stages in life.
Grant funding for the first year is $263,938, and the anticipated funding from the U.S. Department of Education from Sept. 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2022, is more than $1.3 million.

“Our goal is to help them get in school or get academically prepared for school,” said Kristie Wilson, director of Veterans Upward Bound. “One of the criteria is if they have been out of school for five years.”


There are two types of criteria a veteran needs to qualify for this program. The criteria are: U.S. veteran having served 180 days of active duty or was a member of the reserve for 30 days or more (training counts) or a reserve component who served on contingency operation on or after Sept. 11, 2001. If a person meets one of those requirements and they are low income or a first-generation college student or demonstrate academic need or have a documented disability then they qualify for this program. For example, a reserve that trained for 30 days and is a first generation college student qualifies for this program.

According to the Department of Education, “Veterans Upward Bound is designed to motivate and assist veterans in the development of academic and other requisite skills necessary for acceptance and success in a program of postsecondary education. The program provides assessment and enhancement of basic skills through counseling, mentoring, tutoring and academic instruction in the core subject areas. The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate at which participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs.”


Arkansas Tech was notified in Sept. 2017 that it had earned a federal grant to offer Veterans Upward Bound, which will provide student success resources to 125 veterans at Tech each year. It is the fourth TRIO program at Arkansas Tech, joining the existing Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science and Student Support Services programs. While the other upward bound programs focus on high school students, the Veterans Upward Bound focuses on veterans at any level of college as long as they need one of the services they provide.

The services offered are: education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants; Instruction in reading, writing, study skills, and other subjects necessary for success in education beyond high school; academic, financial, or personal counseling; tutorial services; mentoring programs; information on postsecondary education opportunities; assistance in completing college entrance and financial aid applications; assistance in preparing for college entrance exams; information on the full range of federal student financial aid programs and benefits; and various workshops to help veterans succeed (organizational skills, time management, VA education benefits, stress management, test anxiety).

“We understand that not everyone can come on campus for the workshops, especially when we serve ten counties, so we’re going to try to put as much as we can online,” said Wilson.


Kristie Wilson is the first director of Veterans Upward Bound at ATU, while Alan Parsons and Allison Sims are serving in the role of academic adviser.

Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Her work experience includes eight years in the Veterans Upward Bound program at Henderson State and service in the Army National Guard.

Parsons earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a graduate certificate in advising from Arkansas Tech. He is on pace to earn a master’s degree in college student personnel from ATU in May 2018. Parsons is a nine-year veteran of active duty with the U.S. Army.

Sims received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Arkansas Tech. She is daughter, granddaughter and niece to a veteran. Sims has worked as an education specialist coordinator in the Veterans Upward Bound program at Henderson State and as a graduate assistant in the Office of Veteran Services at ATU.


Veterans Upward Bound at Tech will serve veterans and service members who live or drill in a region that includes the counties of: Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Perry, Pope, Sebastian and Yell.

Students wishing to apply for the Veterans Upward Bound program may send e-mail to, call Wilson at 479-964-0583 ext. 2425, call Parsons at 479-964-0583 ext. 2814 or stop by Rothwell Suite 107 Room 116.

Amber Quaid
About Amber Quaid 60 Articles
Amber Quaid is the coeditor-in-chief for the Arka Tech newspaper at Arkansas Tech University. Her focus is on diversity and its importance for inclusion into society. Amber has a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in communication and public relations. She is currently working on receiving her master’s degree in multimedia journalism. Amber has been in the professional world of journalism for 4 years and in professional management positions for 16 years with a Fortune 500 company. Currently, on the Arka Tech Amber does layout, design, and writes articles about diversity and mental health issues. She enjoys reading, hanging out with her kids and playing deck-building board games.