The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Reception honors national TRIO Day

David Taintor

“You cannot have equal opportunity without equal access to education and opportunity,” said Kimamo Wahome, program director of Upward Bound. Wahome helped host a reception for TRIO Day Tuesday night in Davies Center.

Wahome said the TRIO programs fulfill that part of the American dream.

The TRIO programs are designed to help students who are financially disadvantaged, have a learning disability or are first-generation college students, said Bruce Ouderkirk, director of Student Support Services. The programs are funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Ouderkirk led a reception Tuesday afternoon to honor national TRIO Day. Awards were handed out to recognize students who displayed leadership in the four TRIO programs at UW-Eau Claire. The programs available are Upward Bound, Student Support Services, Education Opportunity Centers and Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement.

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This is the seventh year the university has had a TRIO Day, Ouderkirk said. The directors of the TRIO programs at Eau Claire received recognition from the Eau Claire City Council Feb. 10.

“It’s important to recognize the work that the programs do and their service to the community,” Wahome said. “It’s wonderful that the city is recognizing the work.”

Ouderkirk said the purpose of TRIO Day is to draw attention to the need to provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged people. He said it’s important so everyone has the equal chance to get an education and further their career and personal goals.

Senior James Little, a student that Ouderkirk said has grown in the SSS program, said he probably wouldn’t be at college if it weren’t for SSS. He said he looked to SSS for support when he struggled freshman year. Little received the Dedication Award at the ceremony.

He said Earl Shoemaker, academic advising coordinator, helped him decide on a major he liked. He decided on business management.

“I feel honored to get this award,” he said. “It’s an honor I didn’t think I would get.”

Senior Ernest Ruiz received the Achiever Award for his accomplishments in SSS. He said the program has helped him in many ways as well.

He is a biology student and said he plans to attend medical or chiropractic school after graduating. He encourages others who are thinking about SSS to take advantage of it.

“It’s just a supportive atmosphere,” Ruiz said. “They don’t force you to do anything; they just put it out there.”

Sophomore Mary Steinmeyer also received an Achiever Award, accepting it from the Educational Opportunity Centers Program.

As a non-traditional student, Steinmeyer was elated. She described the feeling as “excellent, exciting, amazing, fantastic,” all with a grin.

“I am beside myself, because coming here was not the easiest thing to do for me,” she said.

Steinmeyer said she plans on keeping in touch with the EOC staff after she graduates. She said it’s not possible to walk into their office and not be affected by their presence and support.

“It’s not something you forget, I swear to you,” she said.

Senior Dale Gibson has been president of the SSS advisory board for two years. She fits all three criteria to be eligible for the TRIO programs. She said TRIO is important because it helps promote education by providing students with the resources they need to be successful in college.

She said, “It takes those of us who don’t have someone to turn back on or lean on and gives us that support and guidance we need.”

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Reception honors national TRIO Day