IATP Student Highlights

Photo of University of Idaho EOC student Malia Brown

Malia Brown

University of Idaho | Educational Opportunity Center

Before finding TRIO, I had an 11th-grade education, was in an abusive relationship, and lacked work experience. I battled this situation for years, but was never able to create stability, which led to my daughter and I becoming homeless. Desperation led to compromised decision-making, which ultimately led to a felony conviction and incarceration in Idaho at South Boise Women’s Correctional Center.

During my time at SBWCC, I was introduced to TRIO through a pre-release course. They made a Zoom appointment with a TRIO advisor and we were able to create a plan of action for furthering my education upon release. They found colleges nearby, we explored my career interests, and planned next steps. Before the meeting ended, my advisor gave me a step-by-step plan to follow as soon as I was released, and for the first time as an adult, I had a future.

After my release, I made an appointment with my advisor and she walked me through the FAFSA, the college application, the admissions process, and created a plan for the upcoming term. TRIO provided the understanding and support that I had previously lacked. I am now in my second year at Linn Benton Community College as a Communications major on track for an Associate’s degree in winter 2025 and will transfer to Oregon State University for a Bachelor’s.

These events set in motion by TRIO Educational Opportunity Center have substantially changed my self-esteem, my self-worth, my family dynamic, and have given me an amazing way to support myself. I have never had a more positive life-changing experience with an organization. My gratitude is endless, thank you for this opportunity to express it.

Photo of Boise State University McNair graduate Chandra Reyna

Chandra Reyna

Boise State University | McNair Scholars Program

I began college a non-traditional, first-generation, low-income student, who was juggling the responsibilities of motherhood while working full time. Navigating college was challenging but the support I received from mentors along the way was pivotal to my personal and professional trajectory. I was first introduced to the McNair Scholar’s Program through a professor. I vividly recall sitting in her office with a slew of questions when she encouraged me to consider continuing my education to pursue a Ph.D., a term unfamiliar to me at the time. She provided me with a link to the McNair Scholars Program and assured me they would offer all the guidance needed throughout the process.

Over the next two years, the McNair Scholars Program not only introduced me to the world of research but also played a crucial role in developing my identity as a scholar. They provided a myriad of academic and professional development opportunities and encouraged me to think ambitiously about my future. What sets the McNair Scholars Program apart is their unwavering support of their students. Despite serving first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, the program staff never viewed these identities as hindrances to our future success or potential. Instead, they fostered a sense of belonging and purpose in their scholars by believing that each of their students’ unique perspectives of the world and science was just as valuable as any other. Before long, we believed it too.

Upon earning my Bachelor’s degree, I pursued graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and earned a Ph.D. in Sociology. Now, as an educator and researcher, I support a new generation of both Sociology and McNair Scholars at my alma mater. As I guide and mentor my students, I am reminded of the program’s enduring impact and its ability to open doors to possibilities that might otherwise remain unseen.

Photo of Idaho State University SSS graduate Danni Fernandez

Danni Fernandez

Idaho State University | Student Support Services

My journey in education began with the invaluable gift of a love for learning, instilled by my parents, who immigrated from Mexico to the United States with a dream to provide their children the opportunities they never had. Growing up, I observed my parents’ struggles and sacrifices, inspiring me to cherish education as a means of empowerment. My journey with TRIO began with my husband, Aaron. Aaron had been a part of TRIO Upward Bound since his freshman year of high school. He loved the program so much that he quickly dragged me to the TRIO office to join Student Support Services (SSS).

As a first-generation student in a new environment, I didn’t need much support during high school, but my first few semesters in college were challenging. I struggled to pass classes and was missing important skills. TRIO SSS was the one to bridge those gaps for me. They helped me fill out the FAFSA, provided tutors, and provided a safe place to study. As a freshman, TRIO taught me how to study and advocate for myself, but the most essential thing TRIO has done for me was they were my support system. I spent so much time in that office discussing my hopes and dreams and how to reach them, but the support didn’t end. Four years after I graduated, when I felt stuck in my job and needed to figure out what to do next, the first person I went to was my TRIO advisor, who again took the time to meet and talk it out. With the support and knowledge from TRIO, I just received my Master’s in Education in December 2023. I will also be continuing my education journey at the University of Georgia, where I will be studying Learning Design and Technology as a fully funded Ph.D. student. I honestly believe I wouldn’t have made it this far without the support of TRIO.

Photo of Boise State University Veterans Upward Bound student Ali Hoffman

Ali Hoffman

Boise State University | Veterans Upward Bound

I served in the US Navy as a Corpsman for nearly six years with assignments in Washington, California, and Japan. I’ve been working in some form of healthcare services since I was fifteen years old, and knew I wanted to stay in that line of work. From my experience working in Naval hospitals and clinics, I knew I wanted to focus on pediatrics or labor and delivery. After I separated from the Navy, my husband and I moved to Idaho, but I didn’t know where to begin my journey to become a nurse. While attending the Women’s Veterans of Idaho Conference, I met the Education Coordinator from Veterans Upward Bound at Boise State University who helped start me on my path.

I was nervous to restart college based on my first experience eight years ago, but the VUB team helped me navigate the system and introduced me to on-campus resources at Boise State University. They gave me a tour of the campus, showed me where my classrooms would be, and introduced me to the Veterans Services Center where I got help with my GI Bill educational benefits. I also really benefited by working with the math and science tutors at VUB. They did a great job helping me to refresh my skills, fill in the gaps, and were thorough and patient in explaining new concepts. Thanks to TRIO and VUB, I’m off to a great start to my college career. I even made the Dean’s List my first semester here!

Photo of Idaho State University UBMS student Zackry Merrill

Zackry Merrill

Idaho State University | Upward Bound Math-Science

I have been a part of TRIO since my freshman year of high school in 2020. My first year in TRIO was during the covid lockdown and there were limitations on the ways that I was able to participate. Once we were out of lockdown and I was able to start fully participating in TRIO, I gained a lot of different, important experiences. One of the earliest TRIO memories I have was a trip to Arizona to visit Dixie Technical College and Northern Arizona University. This experience allowed me see schools that are vastly different from the ones offered nearby. It also allowed me to experience a great trip to the Grand Canyon. Another great trip that changed my life was to Butte, Montana to see Montana Technological University. This was my favorite of the many college tours that we went on, and it led to me to apply to Montana Tech.

TRIO allowed me to tour many colleges, learn about different career opportunities, and explore degree options. Through TRIO, I connected with a college recruitment advisor who helped me decide to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

One of the best experiences that I had through TRIO was the opportunity to participate in the SEED program at Idaho State University. I had the opportunity to assist in the ISU chemistry department on a research project with a graduate student and a professor. Without my TRIO advisor informing me about this
opportunity, I would not have known to apply for the program. TRIO provided me many different opportunities throughout my high school career and I am excited to graduate and start my college journey.

Photo of University of Idaho Upward Bound graduate Dakota Gorges

Dakota Gorges

University of Idaho | Upward Bound

I got the opportunity to participate in the Upward Bound program for my last two years of high school. I got to learn about the process of going to college and the different routes I could take after I graduated high school. I always knew I wanted to attend college, but I wasn’t sure what the process looked like or how I would afford it.

In the summer of 2019, before my senior year of high school, Upward Bound took us to stay at the University of Idaho. We took classes for two weeks and then went on a trip to Washington, D.C., all at no cost to us. Staying on a college campus was a new experience for me, and it showed me that I did want to
attend college. The trip to Washington, D.C. was simply amazing and something I will never forget. We not only got to go to all the museums, but we also got to tour several universities. My experience in the program expanded my idea of who I am and what I could accomplish.

I’m now a senior at the University of Idaho, and I’m going to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education in the spring. I’m also the current President of my sorority, Delta Zeta. Once I graduate, I will be a high school English teacher. When I think about how I got here, I think of Upward Bound. They showed me the University of Idaho and helped me with networking skills, which allowed me to find a feeling of home on this campus. I will be forever grateful for my experience in Upward Bound, and I know they reach many more lives than just mine, showing young people what they can be capable of.

Photo of University of Idaho ETS student Anthony Juarez

Anthony Juarez

University of Idaho | Educational Talent Search 

TRIO helped me gain the confidence that college was a possibility for me. When I started high school in 2019, I was thinking heavily about my future plans after graduation. I contemplated my options and looked into jobs available in my community. A lot of the jobs were agricultural and factory jobs, but I did not see myself doing that as a long term career. So I decided to look into colleges. During my senior year, I went to an event called the Vandal Challenge hosted by the University of Idaho, which opened my eyes to the possibility of attending a 4-year institution.

At the time, I was confused and wanted to know more about college and scholarships. So, I walked into my counseling office and met this amazing TRIO advisor named Jaime. Jaime helped me with every question I had, whether it was about colleges, FAFSA, applying for scholarships, or applying for the CAMP Program. My TRIO advisor made themselves available to answer any questions I had, even when it was a day that they were not at my high school. Jaime was also there for me in my personal life when I had self doubt about moving away for college and being away from my family.

TRIO has been life changing for me and my future. I cannot stress enough how much TRIO has helped me with gaining the confidence I needed in my academic journey and helping me shake off the jitters of starting college and being away from my family. As of Fall 2023, I am a proud Vandal at the University of Idaho. Thank you, TRIO! Your work is amazing. TRIO Works!

Idaho State Upward Bound digital yearbook cover image, black background with a large blue circle and image of a city

Idaho State UB/UBMS 2023 Digital Yearbook

Check out the digital 2023 summer yearbook put together by the students and staff of Idaho State University’s Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math-Science Programs!

View digital yearbook here

Boise State summer program 2022 image, black background with different colored hand drawn flowers

Boise State Upward Bound 2022 Digital Yearbook

During the Exploration class of the Boise State TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program, students put together a yearbook to capture their amazing experiences. This is the final product of the student driven project. Seven students took charge of taking and selecting photos of the many summer events, creating the overall design, and exercised their graphic art skills as they built each individual page of the yearbook. Yearbooks created help to celebrate the learning, the fun, and the friendships of each TRIO UB Summer Program, and continue to keep memories alive for years to come.

Check out the Boise State Upward Bound 2022 Digital Yearbook here! 

TRIO UBMS Student Jaime Teed

Jamie Teed

University of Idaho | Upward Bound Math-Science

TRIO has been an inspiration since the day I joined as a sophomore in high school. It started to prepare me for college, but it turned into something so much more than that. During my time in the program, I have learned about careers and STEM opportunities that would have never been available to me. I had the privilege of going to the Women in Engineering event that gave me a unique perspective on the engineering world. I also was accepted to many exceptional college institutes because of their fantastic encouragement. However, the most incredible part of my experience was the Rover Observation And Drone Survey (ROADS) on Mars challenge. As the team leader, I became more confident and motivated to go above and beyond the ordinary. It was because of their guidance, advice, and selflessness that we were successful. As a result, our team scored in the top four teams in the entire country and a story in our local newspaper. This program has given me a great stepping stone into science and leadership. I can finally discover my dream of going to NASA and creating a career I know I can be proud of. I owe TRIO a deep, sincere thank you for everything they have done for the other organization members and me. They have truly changed my life.

Read the Lewiston Tribune article about Jaime’s experience with the ROADS Challenge

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