Student News

TRIO Alumni Receive Awards in Bridgeport, CT
(April 16, 2014) 

(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
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.

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.

JWCC and TRIO Program Give Quincy Student Green Light to Chase Her Dream
(March 31, 2014) 

Lynsey Whitaker '14 meets with TRiO Advisor Alisa Cameron to go over transfer scholarships at UNC-Charlotte.Lynsey Whitaker always planned to do big things. She just needed a little bit of help from the crew at John Wood Community College to make her move.

Whitaker is a first generation college student on the verge of completing an associate degree in communication at JWCC. She says JWCC’s professors and TRiO program have given her the confidence to chase her dream of becoming a NASCAR broadcaster.

All of Whitaker’s courses have transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the heart of NASCAR country. In August she will be minutes away from Dale Earnhardt Inc. headquarters, Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Whitaker’s story is one of thousands celebrated across the country this April as part of Community College Month. JWCC’s “Smart Start, Amazing Finish” theme for this year’s month-long celebration focuses on how starting at a community college provides the solid foundation for students to find the right... — [ more ]

CSC Student of the Month Named
(March 11, 2014) 

Tawny StaabTawny Staab has been named the Chadron State College Project Strive/TRiO program February 2014 Strive Student of the Month.

Staab joined the Project Strive family in fall of 2012 from her hometown of Sidney, Neb. Her love of math led her to major in business with an accounting option.

At CSC, she has pursued her high school passion of cheerleading.

Lisa Curtis, Strive/TRiO retention specialist, said, “Tawny’s great attitude and flair make her a perfect fit for the team.”

In her spare time, Staab enjoys shopping, getting manicures, and trying out new hairstyles.

“From day one, she has been a great addition to Project Strive and continues to promote the program to new people,” Curtis said.

The Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month award recognizes outstanding students who are members of the organization. Each month, a participating student is selected for the award based upon her or his work in Project Strive/TRiO and other activities on campus or in the community.

Award winners receive plaques from Project Strive and have their photos placed in the Project Strive/TRiO 2013-14 Student of the Month Achievement Recognition board located in the Strive Learning Center.

The Federal TRiO Programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from dis... — [ more ]

UW McNair Scholar’s Research Project Chosen for ‘Posters on the Hill’ Event
(February 11, 2014) 

Talysa Stockert, a UW senior majoring in energy systems engineering, was among 60 college and university students chosen nationwide to participate in the 18th annual Posters on the Hill event in Washington, D.C. Here, she pours low-density polyethylene (a substitute for ammonia borane) through a funnel into the twin-screw extruder.When Talysa Stockert was a child, she and her father shared time taking apart home appliances and putting them back together.

Now, Stockert, a University of Wyoming energy systems engineering major, is researching how to make hydrogen fuel cell cars lighter and, eventually, more competitive with vehicles that run on conventional gas.

That engineering innovation has garnered the UW senior some attention. Stockert, a UW McNair Scholar and first-generation college student, was among 60 college and university undergraduate students nationwide selected to participate in the 18th annual Posters on the Hill April 28-29 in Washington, D.C.

Stockert’s poster presentation, titled “Heat Transfer Study in a Laboratory Twin-Screw Extruder for On-Board Hydrogen Storage,” was chosen from approximately 600 submissions. The Council on Undergraduate Research sponsors the event.

“I’m still in shock. I really didn’t expect it,” says the student from Greybull. “It’s another chance to talk about my research with different audiences.”

That audience will include guests invited by the presenters, members of the Council for Undergraduate Research, and all U.S. senators and U.S. representatives, says Zackie Salmon, project coordinator for UW’s McNair Scholars Program.

Stockert’s poster presentation demonstrates her research in transporting and heating ammonia borane ­— a solid, sticky hydrogen storage material. Heating the ammonia borane allows the hydrogen gas to be released from the solid and used by the hydrogen fuel cell to create electricity.

“You need a giant tank to hold hydrogen gas. The tank is heavy and unsafe,” Stockert says. “But, if you have a container of ammonia borane that... — [ more ]

Never Too Late to Become a Student
(January 21, 2014) 

TRiO Student Support Services is a program that helps disadvantaged students navigate through college life.Angela Stanley, a first-generation college student and senior professional writing major, initially began her higher education in 1981, but life threw some curveballs and she ended up divorced and jobless.

More than 30 years later, she lost a very good job and made the decision to go back to school.

“I had always intended to go back to school and finish up my degree, and this seemed like the appropriate time to do so,” she said. “After all, I’m just old, not dead. I still have about 20 years left in the work place.”

Stanley joined TRiO Student Support Services, a student outreach program that helps disadvantaged students navigate their way through college.

“Running around with all these young kids was very intimidating,” she said. “Without the emotional support I got from TRiO, I wouldn’t have made it through my first semester.”

Now, two years after beginning her technical writing program at the age of 51, Stanley is preparing to walk for graduation in May and is starting her... — [ more ]

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