Student Stories

Bailey Barrett

Clatsop Community College Talent Search

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, although I changed schools often. I spent the most time in Seaside, OR, which I consider to be my home town. In high school, I was involved in Track and Field (long jump, triple jump, and relays), participating in the Track and Field State Competition during my first two years. More notably, I was involved in student government, serving as either president or vice president of my class all four years of high school. I was also a member of the National Honors Society. However, the “extracurricular” that had the most impact on my ability to continue to collegiate level education was my job at Seaside Pet Clinic. Working in a sphere related to my intended field of study was and continues to be useful. Meanwhile, I always kept academics a top priority, achieving an unweighted high school GPA of 3.9. 

With guidance and support from my Talent Search advisor, I was able to secure substantial scholarships to fund my way through college. I received the prestigious, national Hagan Scholarship and, locally, the Ashley-Flukinger Scholarship. I also received the Summit and Diversity Excellence Scholarships from the University of Oregon, where I am currently enrolled. I am pursuing a Biology degree through UO’s Clark Honors College. After finishing my undergraduate studies at UO, I hope to continue to graduate school and begin research of my own. I am not sure exactly what my focus will be, so it’s a good thing I have the next four years to figure it out!

My advice to current pre-college TRIO students is to start thinking about and preparing for college early. Be mindful of how the decisions you make early on affect your ab

ility to get into your school of choice and to obtain scholarships. I also recommend keeping a file from the start of high school with important dates, a list of achievements, events you participate in, and various other things that schools and scholarship committees may ask about. Overall, be ambitious, believe in yourself, and take advantage of the support and resources that are available. It will be worth it!

 

Sandra Morales

Southern Oregon University | Student Support Services

Homelessness is something Sandra Morales knew all too well.  To Sandra, it was not by choice, but more like some place you find yourself in and you just try to adapt or survive the best you can.  Homelessness always comes with added interest as many homeless folks find ways to endure the harshness from the weather and people who intently gleam walking by.  For Sandra, she would cope with alcohol and go on to form a habit of heavy drinking.  However, the story does not begin here.

Sandra’s story begins years later around 2010 when she had to consider education or remain to be living on the streets much longer.  On a dare, Sandra chose to go to college, but with much reservation and little confidence.  To her surprise, she did well in her first class, so she tried to add another class to her workload, and thus the love of knowledge began with Sandra.

Tired of the California scene and wanting to stop being reminded of the streets, Sandra took to Oregon and found that Southern Oregon (SOU) would be her new home.  She enrolled in classes at Southern Oregon University and quickly took advantage of all of her resources including the TRIO SSS program.  Not much later Sandra found stability, something she had not experience in over 14 years.  Sandra had a place to call her home, a stable job working for the recycling department at SOU, and she was 2/3 done with her degree in Sociology.  The future never seemed so bright.

Sandra didn’t stop growing.  She would later go on to advocate for the homeless population by organizing,” Social Change for Homeless Students” and raised over three hundred dollars in six months.  She would regularly attend a sobriety group at SOU and support other students dealing with alcoholism and depression.  She was an inspiration to many as almost every student and faculty knew her name at SOU.  She was loved and cared for by many staff in the SOU community.  

Sandra Morales passed away on October 23, 2020.  She was a friend to many, a mother to some, but cherished by all.

  • Written by Chris Mahan, her academic advisor in the TRIO SSS program at SOU.

Matthew Dressa

Portland State University | Upward Bound | Talent Search
Graduation: 2021

I was born in San Diego, California as the son of two African immigrants. At a young age my family, which consisted of two sisters and my parents, moved to Portland, Oregon to be closer to family. I lived in a house with nearly 10 people. Our family was the one struggling financially. To commence my education, my father enrolled me in a school that was in a neighborhood with individuals from a higher socioeconomic status than I was. I was going to a school where most kids had everything, but I had to work harder than them because I knew that my family did not have everything.

As I transitioned from elementary to middle school, the experiences were all too similar, but it was not until I reached high school when I encountered something different. My first interaction with TRIO was when a man named Darryl Kelly invited me to join a program named ETS. After being encouraged to join, my life drastically changed. Joining Educational Talent Search was the stepping-stone to being more involved in TRIO. In the summer of 2015, I joined Upward Bound, and with my engagement in the summer program, I learned so much! Upward Bound really opened up the gates for me to have easier access to college. Through Upward Bound, I was encouraged to reach higher than what I could have ever imagined. I gained leadership and networking skills that ultimately developed my success. In Upward Bound, I was given the privilege to serve as Student Input Board president. I also had the honor to travel to Washington DC for the National Student Leadership Congress for Upward Bound Students, and to the state of New York to visit the colleges where I was accepted. Without this program, my future would not be as clear as I see it now.

TRIO is truly a life-changing program. Coming from a low-socioeconomic status, college was not always an option for me. Just the mere price tag of a college education was enough to scare my family and I. Upward Bound played an essential role in helping me apply for scholarships, and college. In the fall of 2017, I plan to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I could not have done it without Upward Bound. Staff from this program wrote me letters of recommendation, and assisted me with constructing my essays, which allowed admissions committee to know me on a personal level. I am truly grateful for a TRIO, for it has helped shape me into the person I am today.

Celeste Hernandez-Cobian

Oregon Institute of Technology | Student Support Services
Graduation: 2017

  1. What is your greatest memory as a TRIO participant?

One of the greatest memories from my time in TRIO was going into my advisor’s office and having a conversation like if she was a very close friend. She made feel welcomed and comfortable talking about anything, not just my education.

Also, my TRIO admission conversation was very emotional for me, because one question had me explain why I am going to college. My parents are Mexican immigrants who came to the United States in 1990 to give my siblings and I a “better” life. My parents are the reason I am here now.

  1. How has TRIO impacted your life?

It has made me realize that someone somewhere is always willing to reach out to you and help your dreams come true. I was more than happy to be part of TRIO. Everyone in TRIO has inspired me to help others and reach out to those who would love to make their dreams come true. It is a great feeling to know someone is there to assist; I know because I have been there.

  1. Had it not been for TRIO I would be…

I probably would have not passed some of my classes. I was struggling with some of my classes, and at one point, I just wanted to give up trying. My advisor helped me find resources and helped me come up with ideas for me to learn studying materials in a fun way.

  1. As a TRIO Alumni, you have a unique experience that you could share with current TRIO students. Can you give some advice to a student still working on their education?

At the moment, you might not think you might be able to “do” it. Keep your thoughts focused on that one goal and you will be able to do anything happen. When I struggled with something, my thought was always, “I can do this; I will make my parents proud.” Graduating from college and getting a degree has always been my dream, and it has always been my parents dream too. I am the first-generation college student and the first graduate in my family.

  1. Describe a relationship that you were able to develop through your involvement with TRIO that has impacted your life in a positive way.

I have already mentioned that my advisor Brenda Odesha has been more that helpful for the past 2 years. She has always given me a lot of advice to help me be successful. If she does not hear from me in a couple of weeks, she will email me and make sure I am doing ok. Michal Kawka has been very helpful when I needed assistance with my resume. He has taken some time from his day to review and give me ideas on my resume. I am very thankful for both individuals that have assisted me in many ways.

 

Hi, my name is Crystal Ambrocio and my major is biochemistry. I have been in TRIO since middle school and I did it all through high school as well. Then, coming into college, I also joined TRIO-SSS. They’ve been able to help me in so many ways. Just being able to have that extra support so that I could make a smooth transition has helped me. They helped me understand what classes I need to take and how to fill out the FAFSA. My parents didn’t have that opportunity to actually even finish high school. And, they didn’t even have any kind of background information on where to start or how to start. So, TRIO helped me with the understanding of all of that stuff. It’s been life changing because I don’t think that if I didn’t have their support, I don’t think I’d be in the same position I’d be in today if I never joined TRIO-SSS because they have been able to guide me and help me in all sorts of ways. Crystal Ambrocio – Mt. Hood Community College SSS TRIO Program – 2018

 

TRIO has deeply impacted my life, and it has become a part of my extended family.  If I have questions or just need to talk, my advisor or any advisor has always been around to help.  There have been many times I felt like giving up and quitting but then I would go talk to a TRIO advisor, and they would help me work through the issues.  Another huge impact TRIO had on my life was helping me to navigate through my degree program. I would get help choosing classes that would work best for my degree, and they would assist me in clarifying whom I needed to talk to and what I needed to get done prior to graduation.  They really understand the process and complications that come from being a nontraditional student.

 If it had not been for TRIO I would probably still be wondering around campus trying to figure out how to navigate my program.  My TRIO advisors helped me figure out an academic plan for my program that was manageable for my life.  I felt all alone at first trying to figure out what classes I needed to take and how long it would take for me to graduate.  They guided me in selecting classes, financial aid as well as getting tutoring.

If I could give advice to students still working on their education, it would be saying “Don’t give up”.   Things get really complicated and messy but talk with your advisor and tell them what is going on. You will be surprised at what these wonderful people can do to get you back on track.  I am a single mother of four with no support system, but I found that support system in the TRIO program.  They believed in me 100% and always had my back with whatever I was going through.                 Angela Thierolf – Oregon Institute of Technology SSS TRIO Program – 2017