Anahsza Jones| Correspondent

On April 22, forty people gathered in Talley for the TRIO SSS Programs End of Year Celebration. The crowd was comprised of parents, faculty, and of course, the TRIO scholars.

The purpose of the TRIO programs is to encourage students who will be first in their immediate family to receive a degree from a four year university, financially under resourced, received a Pell Grant, and/or registered with student disability services.

Courtney Simpson, the program director for the TRIO Student Support Services program, said “Our goal is to make sure our students are academically successful, return each year and continue in their chosen major, and make sure our students are graduating in less than six years…It’s to make sure these students are provided with academic, personal, career, and financial literacy type of support.”

At the event, TRIO recognized their twenty-eight graduating seniors and gave awards to those students who they feel have gone above and beyond in their commitment to the program. “These are the students who really embody what it means to be TRIO and I have no problem knowing that these students will sell our program because they have really benefitted from the program,” said Simpson.

Ashley Walker, a senior in zoology and environmental science and valedictorian in both the College of Sciences and the College of Natural Resources was asked to be the student speaker for the event. In her speech she made a point to encourage students to “Overcome your fears, take a step into the dark, and shine.”

Maya Hart, senior in psychology, TRIO ambassador and recipient of the Senior Achiever Award said, “[TRIO] has helped me in ways I didn’t even know I needed…Trio is in my heart, and that’s why I try to do all I can for it.” Hart will be working with NC State College Advising Corps and one day hopes to open her own social work private practice, using the personal and professional skills she has learned by being part of TRIO.

Shaquilla Hamlett, junior in animal science and also a TRIO ambassador and recipient of the Rising Achiever Award “I wanted to have a support system…and the passion and the dedication that they gave to their students filled me with encouragement.”

TRIO was honored to have Dr. Valerie K Fields, founder of V.K. Fields & Co., share her experiences and advice with their guests. Fields called TRIO an inspiring program to be a part of, and expressed her pride in the students she saw gathered at the event. “I think we all need to hear that; ‘we are proud of you’…and the world is waiting for leaders like you,” said Fields.