Two alums Honored as TRIO achievers

National TRIO Day acknowledges the importance of TRIO programs and their impact on students.

For two South Plains College alums, this day marks their success as TRIO achievers.

National TRIO Day, which is designated as Feb. 28, is a day dedicated to celebrating and advocating TRIO programs, which are federally-funded student service organizations with the intent to offer help and resources to disadvantaged students. TRIO programs, such as Upward Bound, Talent Search and Student Support Services, are offered at many schools and universities to ensure the success of low-income students, first-generation students and students with disabilities.

On March 29 in the Sundown Room on the SPC Levelland campus, the National TRIO Day Luncheon was held to promote local TRIO programs, including SPC Upward Bound, the SPC Success Through Academic Resources Center, Texas Tech University Upward Bound, Texas Tech Student Support Services and LEARN Inc. Educational Opportunity Center and Talent Search.

IMG_4419During the luncheon, two SPC alums and former participants in TRIO programs, Lupe Hinojosa of the SPC STAR Center and Emily Olvera of SPC Upward Bound, were honored as TRIO achievers for their respective programs. These alums were honored for their work while in TRIO programs and their success after completing college.

National TRIO Day events, such as the luncheon, are necessary to inform people of TRIO programs and to honor high achievers.

Chris Riley, director of SPC Upward Bound, said that one important quality about the luncheon is being able to recognize the importance of TRIO.

“The main purpose is to honor our past TRIO achievers,” said Riley. “Not only are we honoring our achievers, but we’re just helping spread the word of what is TRIO.”

Since TRIO programs are funded by the federal government, Riley said it is important to spread the word about the programs and the success of its students. Honoring Olvera for her achievements during and after her time in SPC Upward Bound was one thing that Riley said shows the success of TRIO.

“She’s just a perfect example of what can happen when you utilize the resources given to you,” said Riley. “She was a student that benefitted greatly from the academic support that we provided. This truly is an example of what can happen when the student gets the right kind of support and encouragement.”

Olvera, a Levelland native, joined the Upward Bound program during the summer before ninth grade and was a member throughout her attendance at SPC. Wanting to major in nursing, Olvera applied for and got accepted in the Licensed Vocational Nursing program at SPC, where her class received a 100-percent pass rate.

IMG_9976While a student at Levelland High School, Olvera said Upward Bound really helped her focus on her journey to college. She credits Upward Bound for providing her with the resources to become college ready.

“I always knew I wanted to go to SPC for the nursing program because they have a really good reputation,” said Olvera. “Without TRIO, I feel like I would have had trouble getting into SPC, just because I wouldn’t have known to apply for FASFA or all the scholarships. I was just so knowledgeable because of Upward Bound.”

Study skills and a newfound sense of confidence are both things that Olvera said she acquired during her time in SPC’s Upward Bound program. Being honored as the Upward Bound achiever for SPC was something she said excited her, as the program was influential for her education.

“Because of my study skills, I was able to succeed at SPC,” said Olvera. “TRIO programs do work. I’m thankful that SPC allows programs, like Upward Bound, to continue to help students like me.”

Olvera now works at South Plains Rural Health Services, Inc. in Levelland as a LVN supervisor.

Hinojosa, a Levelland native who also attended Levelland High School, began his journey in TRIO through Upward Bound at SPC. As a Business Administration major at SPC, Hinojosa took part in the STAR Center program.

After graduating from SPC, Hinojosa transferred to Texas Tech, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Management Information Systems and later received his master’s degree from West Texas A&M University.

The STAR Center program was something Hinojosa said was beneficial for his education during and after SPC.

“The STAR Center staff were there the entire journey, all the way to my graduate degree,” said Hinojosa.

Being honored at the TRIO Luncheon was something Hinojosa said was a great surprise.

“It was great to see everyone from SPC again,” said Hinojosa.

Hinojosa now works at University Medical Center Health System as a computer systems analyst.

Rita Prieto, director for the SPC STAR Center, said that TRIO events are important to spotlight the achievements of students, such as Hinojosa.

Prieto said that the selection of the TRIO achievers requires a lot consideration, as every student in the program is special.

“Selecting one individual is a hard process,” said Prieto. “The thing about selecting Lupe is that he is the person that the whole staff thought about.”

Through National TRIO Day events and honoring students, Prieto said she hopes to inform the community about TRIO and the success of its members.

“The whole purpose of the program being here is to promote higher education,” said Prieto. “The philosophy of the program is the same philosophy that I have. It’s to help these students achieve their educational goals.”

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