TRIO Achievers are nominated by ASPIRE members and chosen by committee. TRIO Achievers are former TRIO participants who have completed their degrees and who are recognized among their colleagues as having a record of achievement and stature within their profession. In addition, TRIO Achievers will have made significant civic, community, or professional contributions. (*National TRIO Achiever Recipient)
As an instructor in the Communication Program at the University of North Dakota I teach four classes a semester. I am currently teaching three classes of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking, Comm. 110 and Media and Diversity, Comm. 310, online. Previously I have taught Interpersonal Communication, Child Development, Development and Education of the Adolescent and Introduction to the Study of Women. I have an undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Communication, a Communication Master’s Degree, and a PhD. In Teaching and Learning Higher Education. My focus in all three degrees has been on gender, culture and diversity. During my career as a professor I received a Star Faculty award for teaching in 2007 and was nominated as Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher in 2015.
I am a first generation college student who returned to college as a nontraditional student after a lengthy absence. The day I walked through the doors of the TRIO program was the day my future was assured. Through Student Support Services I received tutoring, a study area with computers and printing and advising that directed my academic path. I met other students who mentored me and I, in turn, mentored others. With one semester of higher education finished I had made the Dean’s list and was introduced to the McNair Program. Graduate school became possible and my secret goal of earning a Ph.D. became a probability. With the support of the McNair staff I made positive steps in learning about research, preparing for graduate school with courses and GRE classes, and received help applying to different graduate programs. I went to conferences and networked beside being in the McNair Program with other students who had the same goals. The support was invaluable and I benefitted from every aspect. SSS and the McNair Program made my success possible. My dreams have become reality.
Emily Ferguson-Steger, M.Ed
Emily started her higher educational journey at Blackfeet Community College (BCC) in Browning, MT on the Blackfeet Reservation in 1997. As she culminated her second year she applied and was admitted into the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program that empowered her to transition to the University of Montana (UM) in the summer of 1999. During this experience she not only worked in a Psychology Lab creating a Life Skills manual for students aging out of the foster care system; but she had the privilege of meeting some amazing people who supported and guided her along her educational/professional journey. Two of those people were Darlene Samson and Ray Carlisle who introduced her to UM’s then, TRiO EOP and all the services it offered; not only helping her with the transition, but all the way through the attainment of her Bachelors degree. She graduated in 2003 with her bachelors in Elementary Education with a double minor in Native American Studies and Anthropology.
After just over a year of teaching at Lolo Schools, she accepted the position of Minority Admissions Counselor (2005) in the office of Enrollment Services at UM. Her student recruitment focused was on first generation, low income, and diverse student populations. She realized this was the right path for her career as it allowed her to empower others find their post secondary fit. This career has taken her all over the US and Canada. Her hard work and dedication has allowed her to serve on many state and national committees committed to ensuring equity and access for all, especially in Higher Education. Through this involvement she was encouraged to continue her educational journey and in 2009 she was accepted into UM’s Masters of Education with a Higher Education emphasis program. To culminate her degree she focused her thesis on the Matriculation of Tribal College Students into Predominately White Institutions (PWI), graduating in 2011.
In addition to be truly humbled and honored in receiving this award she was just recently named the University of Montana’s newest Director of Admissions. She is excited to continue her life’s work of empowering others to fulfill their dreams while pushing conversations of access and equity within Higher Education.