Ashley Nash, Sentinel Intern
Los Angeles Sentinel—November 30, 2012
Vice President of Educational Services at College Bound, Dr. Kirk Kirkwood speaks on the program that’s “changing attitudes and creating opportunities.”
“I couldn’t see this coming; it was a faith venture.” As a student at Morningside High School, Kirkwood knew that he wanted to attend college. However, due to a lack of resources, Kirkwood felt uncertain about the fruition of this dream. Little did he know, opportunity was living right next door. Neighbors to the Kirkwoods and founders of College Bound, The Slaters pointed Kirkwood in the direction of Johnnie and Andy Savoy. The Savoy’s worked closely with families preparing students for entry into institutions of higher education.
Upon meeting the Savoys, Kirkwood was asked to bring his father as well as his transcript to the next meeting. With an emphasis on parental involvement, the Savoys highlighted the importance of the process for students. Kirkwood stated in regards to his transcript, “it was very bleak, but she saw my potential and the opportunities in my future.” Alongside Kirkwood, the Savoys embarked on the college preparatory journey; experiencing campus tours, encountering internship opportunities and the like. Kirkwood felt embraced and encouraged. “If College Bound helped someone like myself who had the desire to go to college, but didn’t have much information about the access, then we can do it for anyone.”
Following culmination from Morningside, Kirkwood attended the University of California, Riverside where he gained his Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies. Subsequently, Kirkwood pursued and attained a Master’s in Education at the Claremont Graduate University. After completing a Master’s in Theology at Fuller Seminary, Kirkwood finalized his education endeavors with a Doctorate in Education from California State University of Fullerton. Now among the College Bound Teaching Staff, Kirkwood contributes to fulfilling the mission in providing programs and services to students and families for admission into four-year institutions of higher education.
Now known as the “Academic Review,” students are advised to take the courses and tests necessary to enter college and College Bound ensures that these students have/experience the required resources. “Today’s students have similar challenges and a lot of uncertainties,” Kirkwood stated. With larger class sizes and cuts in funding, opportunities for students to engage and prepare are dyer now more than ever. By incorporating a holistic approach in engaging parents and other methods, College Bound sets themselves a part from other college preparatory organizations. As a result, students are inspired and their interests are peaked by the new features that College Bound has to offer; to form alliances with organizations to have greater impacts on student’s educational journeys.
Within the last few years, College Bound joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research program, a partnership with University of California, Los Angeles where juniors can conduct research at the graduate level. Similarly, through the School of Business at the University of Southern California, juniors can participate in a leadership program. Along the same lines, College Bound has introduced their own new approach of STEM- Science Technology Engineering and Math.
By way of intensive SAT prep, Match Diagnostic tests, and access to Internet courses, College Bound has maintained their success rates which are the following: 100% graduation rate from high school, 98% acceptance rate to four-year institutions, close to 90% graduation rate within four-to-six years from universities and colleges. College Bound continues to embrace their commitment to families and to faith, presenting so many opportunities to youth. As an evolving organization of 22 years, College Bound also maintains their relationship with the community by visiting churches, conducting presentations at schools and more. “Our parents are our biggest asset (they tell everyone) and we are so thankful.”
“What we offer combats the challenges students are experiencing.” According to the California Department of Education, “African-American students sit at the bottom tier for performance in schools; just below English language learners and just above special leaning students.” As a result, College Bound strives to excel in meeting the needs of students. From academic advisory and Saturday discourses to tutorial support and test practices, College Bound attains and celebrates the achievements of students. “We provide parents with workshops discussing intergenerational communications as well as financial planning.” Feeling partly responsible in producing these conversations, Kirkwood stated, “if you trust us, then we will guide you in the right direction.”
Utilizing locations throughout the Greater Los Angeles area such as USC and UCLA to conduct Saturday classes, College Bound educates students reflecting this same geographic ubiquity. Be on the lookout for College Bound’s newest venture, mobile workshops, coming your way. For more information, visit www.collegeboundca.org.