Belinda Brownlee has returned to Chattanooga as the new director of the Upward Bound program in the UTC Center for Community Career Education.
Brownlee is a graduate of Howard High School in Chattanooga. She earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina and received her graduate degree from Clemson University.
“I am proud of my accomplishment as a first-generation college student. However, my greatest accomplishment was ensuring that each of my children also attained college degrees,” said Brownlee.
Brownlee worked with the Upward Bound Program at Tri-County Technical College, in Pendleton, South Carolina, for ten years before coming to UTC.
“I have held numerous positions within the program, all of which enabled me to gain valuable knowledge of the rules, regulations, and the normal operation of the program. It also allowed students the opportunity to get to know me on a more personal level,” Brownlee said.
Brownlee quickly moved up through the Upward Bound program. She began as a dorm supervisor, became a counselor, and finally coordinator of the program.
She chose to work with Upward Bound because she believes in its mission of helping disadvantaged youth graduate from high school and go on to college.
“I was a teenage mother who had to simultaneously work, raise a family, and go to school. I can relate to students as well as their parents,” said Brownlee.
Brownlee is not afraid to share her personal story to help students understand that anything is possible with perseverance.
“It is challenging as well as rewarding helping students who are either potential first-generation college students and/or low-income. Changing the mindset of students who don’t think it is possible for them to make their dreams a reality is a passion of mine,” said Brownlee.
Students in Upward Bound are introduced to cultural and social enrichment activities, colleges and universities. The program provides them with SAT/ACT preparation, and provides guidance through their high school years.
“I look forward to continuing the work of motivating and educating the Upward Bound participants at UTC so that they can become productive citizens in our society,” Brownlee said.
To learn more about the Upward Bound program visit http://www.utc.edu/Outreach/UpwardBound/history.php