|TRIO Alumni Receive Awards in Bridgeport, CT
(April 16, 2014)
The New England Educational Opportunity Association recently honored two Vermont Upward Bound alumni at their annual conference held this year in Bridgeport, CT. Lyndon State College Upward Bound alumna Crystal Baldwin was named a NEOA Achiever, and University of Vermont Upward Bound alumna Mia Midenjak was named a Rising Star. Achiever Patricia Marshall, Ph.D. from the University of Maine Upward Bound and Talent Search program, and Rising Star Jane-Roberte Sampeur J.D. alumna of the TRIO Student Support services program at the University of Connecticut were also honored. All four recipients spoke at the Achiever Luncheon on April 9th about their path to college, and the role that TRIO programs played in their personal and professional success. The NEOA Achiever and Rising Star Awards recognize outstanding TRIO educational opportunity program graduates who have exceled in their profession as established or emerging leaders. Achievers and Rising Stars strive excel in their chosen field, devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way, and serve as a role model for other modest income, first generation college bound students and students with disabilities.
(l-r) Mia Midenjak, JD, NEOA Rising Star, University of Vermont Upward Bound; Jane-Roberte Sampeur, JD, NEOA Rising Star, University of Connecticut Student Support Services; Patricia A. Marshall, Ph.D, NEOA Achiever, University of Maine Upward Bound and Talent Search; Crystal Baldwin, NEOA Achiever, Lyndon State College Upward Bound
While growing up in Montpelier, Crystal Baldwin joined Upward Bound and began her journey to college. She utilized the tools and opportunities available through Upward Bound to transform into a highly motivated student, citizen, and professional. Crystal graduated from Berea College in 2004 with a BS in Business Administration, and began her career working as Assistant to the President, and with fundraising. Crystal returned home to Vermont in 2009 and has worked since that time in the Vermont Attorney General’s office as Program Coordinator at the Consumer Assistance Program. She continued to give back to Lyndon State Upward Bound as a tutor counselor, and founded a scholarship for current LSC Upward Bound students with a group of former Upward Bound classmates. In Ms. Baldwin’s own words: “I know the factor that drives the significant difference in my life from being what I had expected is having obtained a college education. In doing so, I obtained the resources that empowered me to navigate every obstacle that has come my way. As an educated person, who is successful in her career, I feel like I have the ability to accomplish anything. It is my greatest personal hope that others will see my experience as a positive example and will also choose to change the course of their lives by obtaining an education. I am certain my life today would not be the same without Upward Bound. In fact, my life continues to get better because of it.”
Mia Midenjak, J.D. arrived in Burlington, Vermont at age 14 as a refugee from former Yugoslavia. Her life as an American citizen began as she learned to speak English, and joined the Upward Bound program at the University of Vermont. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Harvard University in 2007 with a concentration in International Law, and her Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 2011. Mia has worked at Pension Action Center at the Gerontology Institute of UMass Boston where she helped recover pension benefits for clients, and currently works as a Law Clerk in the Vermont Superior Court in Burlington, VT. In Ms. Midenjak’s own words: “It meant a lot to me and my family that Upward Bound cared enough about my future to invest so much time in me. Today, ten years later, I am a graduate of Harvard College and the Boston University School of Law. In retrospect, I believe that a lot of my academic success can be tied directly to my participation in Upward Bound, without which I would have been significantly less prepared for the challenging journey through higher education. Especially for students like me, who come from families where no one has ever gone to college, Upward Bound played a very important role in envisioning and realizing a brighter future for myself.”
The TRIO Programs (initially just three programs) are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as TRIO. TRIO students are first generation college bound and from modest income families and/or are students with disabilities. Vermont’s TRIO programs are federally funded educational opportunity programs assisting just over 11,000 middle school, high school and college bound adults throughout Vermont. Vermont’s 14 Federal TRIO programs include Talent Search, Educational Opportunity Centers and GEAR UP, all hosted by VSAC, and the college based Student Support Services, and Upward Bound. Combined, these programs bring over 8.5 million dollars in federal funds to promote access to and success in higher education for Vermont students.