Upward Bound students posing on the steps in Cleveland Circle

Education Alumna and Pioneer to Provide Keynote at Upward Bound Banquet


Buffalo State College will celebrate the 55 Buffalo high school students who participated in the Upward Bound program last summer with a banquet on Saturday, December 4, at 6:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall, preceded by mocktails at 5:00 p.m.

Head shot of Johnnie Mayo

Johnnie Mayo, ’59,
Hal D. Payne Educational Opportunity Lifetime Service Award

Keynote speaker Johnnie Mayo, ’59, will be named the 2021 recipient of the Hal D. Payne Educational Opportunity Lifetime Service Award. Mayo, who earned a degree in elementary education, became a pioneer in the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) over her 37-year career. After serving for years as the principal of Build Academy (now Build Community School), beginning in 1970, she became the only female to be appointed to one of four supervising principal positions within the BPS.

In 1990, she became the first African American female in the district to reach the rank of assistant superintendent for elementary education. During the 1980s, she also served as project consultant for the U.S. Department of Education. After she retired, Mayo taught a graduate course in education at Buffalo State.

“We selected Ms. Mayo for this award because she was a trailblazer and continues to serve as an inspiration for the next generation of educators,” said Donald Patterson, who has served as the director of Buffalo State’s Upward Bound program since 2001. “She paved the way for students to find unlimited success, not only in education but all fields. She demonstrated that regardless of race, background, or socioeconomic status, students can rise up in any career they choose—with a college education.”

“What makes Upward Bound work year after year is that students are rewarded for their success, and they stay on track academically. The summer program not only prepares them for the following school year; it also prepares them for college.”

- Donald Patterson, Director, Buffalo State College Upward Bound Program

Upward Bound, a federally funded program, enables qualified ninth through 12th graders at McKinley, Lafayette, and East high schools to receive tutoring, personal development workshops, and help with career planning each summer. In years past, the students stayed in the Buffalo State residence halls during the six weeks of the summer residency while taking a full slate of core academic classes—including math, science, English, Spanish, and history, as well as other elective courses—with certified BPS teachers. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, students did not reside on campus last summer and participated in the academic program remotely; however, the weekly field trips throughout Western New York and beyond continued, Patterson noted. Each Friday over the six weeks, Patterson and Upward Bound staff took students to spots open to the public.

“The kids got a bit of normalcy following a difficult year,” Patterson said. “And we were thrilled that 55 students wanted to participate in the program, even remotely, and that a number of teachers were on board as well. It turned out to be a good summer, and we want to recognize the students’ hard work at the banquet.”

Also during the banquet, four students will be awarded $500 each from the Hal D. Payne Scholarship for 2020 and 2021. Funded by Joe Carubba, president and CEO of Carubba & Company, the annual scholarship is named in honor of Buffalo State’s former vice president for student affairs.

One of eight federal TRIO programs designed for disadvantaged students, Upward Bound was created under the Higher Education Act in 1965. It aims to expose students attending inner-city high schools to the benefits of college. To qualify, students must come from low-income families in which neither parent possesses a college degree. An impressive 90 percent of Upward Bound graduate go to college, and many choose Buffalo State.

“What makes Upward Bound work year after year is that students are rewarded for their success, and they stay on track academically,” Patterson said. “The summer program not only prepares them for the following school year; it also prepares them for college.”

Pictured: Upward Bound students on the steps of Cleveland Circle, taken before one of their field trips, summer 2021.