TRIO Success Stories

Kem Nuesca
North Idaho College | TRIO Student Support Services

Kem Nuesca, TRIO Student Support Services

Kem Nuesca, TRIO Student Support Services

My name is Kem, and had it not been for the TRIO Student Support Services program at North Idaho College I would not have continued my education. I came to college after a 34 year absence from school with only an 8th grade education. I felt like I didn’t deserve an education because I had been in prison. As if all of these things didn’t present enough challenges for me, one week before my first semester at NIC I lost my husband to suicide. Eight months later, I needed to be my mom’s strength as she lost her battle to cancer.

Joining TRIO was like joining an extended family. We bonded by participating in many different events, studying together, and campus clubs activities. My advisor walked me through the terrible pain of my personal losses and helped me cope with my feelings of disconnect from family and my feelings of not being deserving an education. She inspired me to move forward and encouraged me to volunteer in events and clubs to strengthen my networking skills and build friendships. She never judged me; only encouraged me. She became my strength when I had none, and spoke hope when I didn’t see it. I want others to know that TRIO students are capable of being overcomers and getting beyond our fear and challenges. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work May, 2018. My passion is to work with the elderly population. Because of the skills I received through participation in TRIO, I have a new outlook on life. I can see my career path and believe that I can accomplish whatever goals I set for myself.

Jessica Mueller
Boise State University | TRIO Rising Scholars Program

Jessica Mueller, TRS student at Boise State University

Jessica Mueller, TRIO Rising Scholars Program

When I came into college, TRIO Rising Scholars welcomed and guided me. I was given a community, an advisor, and a mentor. When I was stressed or confused about where I was heading, I knew I could lean on TRIO Rising Scholars for support. I remember not understanding where I belonged in academia. TRIO Rising Scholars helped me find myself by organizing insightful workshops and by taking me to a research conference at the University of Washington. Since that time, my passion for research has blossomed and I know who I want to become. This past October, I found out about a paleoclimate research opportunity in France. I turned to my advisor for guidance and he went above and beyond. He wrote me an impactful letter of recommendation and critiqued my statement of research interest. I found out yesterday that I was admitted into the program! I will be able to go to France, at no cost, and study sediments of the Paleozoic era for four weeks. I am so glad that I am a member of TRIO Rising Scholars. I would not have the opportunities or experiences that I have today if it weren’t for this program. I am excited for the future and look forward to sharing more moments of success and happiness with the my TRIO community.


Aaron Stahlman
Idaho State University |
TRIO Upward Bound Program

Aaron Stahlman, Idaho State University, Upward Bound Program

Aaron Stahlman, Upward Bound Program

My time in Upward Bound has been life changing, it gave me a chance to get a jump start on my future that I never thought was possible. I am currently enrolled at ISU and am thankful to Upward Bound for helping me make my decision for post-secondary education clear. This program is now a part of me and has completely changed my life forever. I decided to give back to the program and work as a tutor/mentor during the summers. Knowing that I am helping over hundreds of students is a phenomenal feeling. I hope to one day change to life of an Upward Bound student just as Upward Bound and its staff has changed mine.


Shanna Torp
North Idaho College |
Student Support Services Program

Shanna Torp, North Idaho College, Student Support Services

Shanna Torp, Student Support Services

My name is Shanna, I’m living proof that TRIO works!! As a young mother, I found myself in living in an abusive marriage fueled by alcohol and drugs. I had no resources to get out and I felt trapped. To make matters worse, I lost everything I owned in a fire and found myself homeless with 2 kids. I relocated to Idaho, and was given the opportunity to re-invent myself with my parents’ support. I decided to pursue a college education because getting a degree was the one thing I knew could never be lost, destroyed or taken away from me.

It had been 20+ years since I had been out of school – I was scared to death! I wondered if I would fit in and if I could handle the work load. Despite my anxieties, I enrolled at North Idaho College and soon found out that times had changed – the traditional idea of college as I knew it was all available on a computer! One of the biggest hurdles for me was math; I used TRIO resources and was able to complete all my degree requirements. I graduated from both NIC and LCSC, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree with honors. I’m currently working full-time in my chosen field and loving my job. Thank you TRIO!!


Maria Venegas
Boise State University |
McNair Scholars Program

Maria Venegas, McNair Scholars Program graduate

Maria Venegas, McNair Scholars Program

I came to this country at the age of 17 with no English skills and from a disadvantaged socio-economic background. Working alongside my parents as farmworkers, my siblings and I learned the value of hard work and education. It was my resilience and persistence that helped me find the resources to attend college. As a first-generation student, the idea of a postgraduate education seemed an impossibility. However, becoming a part of the Ronald E. McNair Scholar Program was one of the best decisions I made during my time at Boise State University. Thanks to the McNair Scholars Program, I was able to accomplish my dream of becoming an Anthropologist. The McNair Scholars Program provided the tools, knowledge, opportunities and financial support to pursue postgraduate education.

In December 2016 I obtained a PhD in Medical Anthropology and a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh; I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centers of Health and Aging, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. This journey would not have been possible without the support and assistance from the McNair Program at the beginning of my career.


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