Akiya Perry, BSN, RN, UB counselor, tutor and science teacher and blood drive organizer, (back row, far right) and Christopher Cooper, program director for the SIUE TRIO Upward Bound EC/MLC programs (back row, far left) pose with UB student blood drive volunteers.

EDWARDSVILLE - Students from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s TRIO Upward Bound (UB) EC/MLC Programs are stepping in to help meet a critical healthcare need in their communities.

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Students will participate in the SIUE Upward Bound Program’s 5th Annual Blood Drive from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, July 19 in room 1027-1028 of Building B on the Wyvette Younge Higher Education Campus in East St. Louis. ImpactLife Blood Center, of Earth City, Mo., is co-sponsoring the blood drive with SIUE.

The activity is student-led, under the direction of Akiya Perry, BSN, RN, UB counselor, tutor and science teacher and blood drive organizer. Students are responsible for organizing, implementing and participating in the blood drive.

“At its core, the blood drive is aimed to alleviate healthcare disparities by ensuring a reliable blood supply for local hospitals and clinics,” said Perry. “I recognize that many residents face barriers to accessing essential medical resources, including blood products crucial for surgeries, emergencies and ongoing treatments. We hope to directly contribute to meeting these urgent healthcare needs by hosting this blood drive within the community.”

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During UB’s summer program, students learned about the properties of blood, the cardiovascular system, the importance of blood collection and the donation process. Students also visited the ImpactLife headquarters to learn about how blood is processed after collection, according to Perry.

“Educational outreach plays a pivotal role in the event as well,” explained Perry. “My goal has been to seize the opportunity to educate community members about the importance of blood donation, and to dispel myths and misconceptions while highlighting how each donation could save lives locally.”

“Through these efforts, we aim to cultivate a culture of health and wellness within East Saint Louis,” added Perry, “and encourage ongoing participation in healthcare initiatives.”

By participating in the blood drive, donors can earn a $20 gift certificate. To sign up to donate for the blood drive or for more information, contact Perry at akperry@siue.edu.

Upward Bound programs help youth prepare for higher education and serve students from East St. Louis, Charter (EC) and Madison, Lovejoy, Cahokia (MLC) high schools. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition and STEM subjects on college campuses after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. The quality services provided will prepare the students for successful high school completion and entrance into post-secondary programs. Upward Bound is a college-preparatory program designed to serve low-income and/or potential first-generation college students who are currently in grades 9-12. Upward Bound is part of the SIUE East St. Louis Center.

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