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Wyoming December Participant of the Month

Hello all! Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday break and ready for 2018!! I am happy to announce Maggie as the EOC Participant of the Month for December! Maggie is a current student at the Rock Springs Learning Center at Western Wyoming Community College. I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie last spring at a community presentation. When I met her, Maggie asked lots of questions about EOC services, possible future opportunities through higher education at WWCC and was super enthusiastic about becoming a participant of EOC. After my presentation Maggie confidently stated she would be in contact with me in the fall when she was ready to move forward in her educational goals. When October rolled around I got the call from Maggie- she was ready to move forward with the help of EOC! Since that initial meeting Maggie has enrolled & regularly attends HiSET classes, taken several tests, completed her FAFSA, and applied to Western Wyoming Community College with plans to attend classes this coming fall. Maggie plans to pursue a degree in Social Work or Criminal Justice with her ultimate career goal to become a Counselor.  I am beyond excited to see where Maggie will go with her career- she is a true go-getter and a hard worker that will have tons of success!! It has truly been my pleasure to work with Maggie on her higher educational journey!

November Student of the Month

Melisa at LCCC would like to announce the November EOC Participant of the Month, Mark. He is a current student at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. Mark is studying Liberal Arts and will be graduating this December. In the Spring of 2018, he will be transferring to the University of Wyoming to continue with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science. Mark is very motivated to continue his education and and take the next steps to secure his future. I have enjoyed working with him and can’t wait to see how he accomplishes his future endeavors.

October Student of the Month

Wyoming Educational Opportunity Center is proud of our highlighted Student of the Month for October!

In November of 2016, Mark Recchia took a huge chance, packed up his dog and a few of his belongings and took off for Wyoming, leaving behind family and friends. He needed a change and Wyoming offered exciting challenges and opportunities. He had been in biotech pharmaceuticals for many years, but he wanted to go back to school to finish his education. And, given his background, a degree in the medical field looked like a good fit.

 

Mark went to Workforce Services to look for employment and it was there that he learned about the Educational Opportunity Center at Gillette College. When I first met Mark, he was anxious to get back into school, but it had been a few years since he last took college classes.  At EOC, he found help navigating through the increasingly complicated process of college and financial aid applications. He started taking classes this fall and is applying to the Medical Assistant Program in the fall of 2018.

 

Mark has quickly embraced student life: he joined the Gillette College Science Association and got a work-study position in the College’s student help zone. Of Gillette College, he says, “It’s a great education and very affordable. The people here are super helpful and everyone is so nice.”  Today, he continues to tackle challenges with optimism and commitment.  If you run in to Mark, be sure to congratulate him on his efforts so far and wish him the best on what may be his greatest challenge yet: he and his girlfriend Amber are expecting their first child in May of 2018!

 

December Student of the Month

The Student of the Month for December is Samantha Roedel.  While she isn’t the typical model for success, she has withstood some insurmountable obstacles this semester and has come out better for it.

Samantha came to me on a referral from Adult Basic Education in Powell.  She should have been a junior in high school, but decided to take her HiSet rather than start over at a new high school after being moved to this area.  She passed her HiSet and placement testing, and she was ready to begin the process of applying for college.  She originally lived in Montana, but her mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness and moved to hospice.  At 17, so she moved in with her Dad and step-mom, never really knowing them in the past.   Having a learning disability her whole life, she wants to become a special education teacher to help students who struggle as she has.

When she met with me, she filled out the FAFSA and the Northwest College admissions application.  I also encouraged her to apply for scholarships and Student Support Services. She did connect with Student Support Services, and we have been working collaboratively to help her.  Sam and I talked about Hathaway, but later SSS discovered that she wouldn’t qualify for Hathaway because she would have been a senior this year and wouldn’t have access to that money until next year when her “class” would graduate.

Her situation changed drastically over the summer.  She met with me in the Fall because she needed to make a payment for her schooling, so I helped her fill out papers for student loans.  At that time, I learned that her mom had passed away.  She had also moved in to the dorms because her dad kicked her out of their house, stopped returning her calls and cut her off completely.  A little later in the semester, she was awarded the Point Architects scholarship which is a local scholarship arranged through Educational Opportunity Center in Powell.  She had the deepest gratitude.  As she went through the semester, she suffered with grief and anxiety.  After she moved out, her dad ended up going to the hospital, almost dying.  No one would give her any information on how he was doing, so she struggled to focus on school work.  Her grades were suffering, so she cut her course load in half.  While she only passed one class the Fall semester, she has shown incredible tenacity.  She kept trying until the very last day of the semester.  Up until a day before break, she didn’t know where she would go or who she would stay with over the Holidays.  Any one of the stresses of homelessness, the loss of her mother, her father’s illness and her learning disability would have been enough to quit school, but she continued to persevere even through the darkest of times.  She is an inspiration as someone who knows what she wants out of life and keeps working towards it regardless of heartbreaking circumstances.

Congratulations William Nolan!

The Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science programs through the University of Wyoming would like to congratulate our Laramie County Upward Bound Math Science student William Nolan on his signing with the University of Wyoming Track and Field team on November 9, 2016.

Will is currently a senior at South High School in Cheyenne.  Throughout his time at South, Will has excelled both academically and through his extracurricular activities.

Starting in the Fall, Will will be a sprinter and jumper for the University of Wyoming and majoring in computer engineering.

Will is an outstanding young man and we wish him well in his future endeavors.  Go Pokes!

The picture featured is of Will Nolan with his Upward Bound Coordinator Brandi Roesener after his signing. Photo courtesy of Christopher Edwards, South High School student

 

October EOC Student of the Month

The October Participant of the Month is Donald Whitmore. Donald was a new participant in 2016 and was referred by a fellow Casper Re-entry resident. He came to the EOC office and asked for assistance applying to Casper College. As I began my usual conversation about FAFSA, Compass testing, transcripts, and applying to school, he held his hand up and said “Whoa! You’re speaking a foreign language to me. I got my GED in Boot-camp – I don’t know all these things you’re speaking about!”
I realized at that moment that I was treating Mr. Whitmore like a number, not a person. Between FAFSA workshops, scholarship appointments, Financial Aid presentations, and numerous student appointments, I was in “go” mode trying to get through the busy EOC season. I set my office phone to voicemail, shrunk the screens on my computer, and shut my office door so that I could concentrate on what was important – the client. Something I had momentarily lost sight of.
Mr. Whitmore explained that he had been incarcerated for 3 years and was released in January 2016. He did not want to return to the life he had previously been living, and was interested in the Automotive Technician program at Casper College. He had concerns about paying for school, at which point I explained the Pell grant, FAFSA, and scholarships – in layman terms, understandable to people that do not work in the education world. We worked on his FAFSA and applied to CC. I explained that we would need to order his transcripts and locate his shot record for proof of MMR shots. We then talked about the Compass test and I gave him the link for practice test and a waiver for the $10.00 test. He was thankful for the waiver as he was looking for a job and did not have the money to spend on a test. This appointment lasted one hour and 15 minutes, not much longer than a typical appointment, but he had my focused attention the minute he held up his hand to slow me down.
Fast forward 7 months: I had a FAFSA & scholarship appointment with Donald on October 3, 2016. We renewed his FAFSA for the 2017/2018 school year and applied for scholarships through the CC Scholarship  portal. He currently has a 4.0 GPA and loves being a student. He would like to graduate with his Associate’s in Auto Tech and go on to get an additional degree in business. He hopes to run his own automotive shop someday. In the past seven months he has become a successful college student, got a full-time job, got married, and became a dad to a baby girl, Natalya Rose. He brought his wife, Juanita, to his appointment today – she wants to get her GED and asked if she could “join” EOC. I gladly handed her an application and asked her what programs she was interested in…without rushing her. Both Juanita & Donald said that they want Natalya to grow up with college educated parents.

May EOC Student of the Month

The EOC Participant of the Month that is Mr. Steve Chenoweth. Steve is a 55 yr old, LIFG, non-traditional student. He graduated in December 2015 with his Associate’s degree in Addictionology and plans to attend UW-Casper in the fall, majoring in Social Work. The reason I chose Steve is because he is not the typical EOC participant…meaning that I had to go beyond our usual “services” to fit Mr. Chenoweth’s academic needs. He needed assistance with things that I typically do not do – which made it a terrific challenge.

Meeting with Steve was not a typical FAFSA/scholarship/application appointment. He is legally blind and partially deaf. He had assistance from our local DVR, but mostly in the form of tuition assistance and book fees. I explained that UW-Casper offers the same disability services that the Laramie campus offers for students with documented disabilities. He had no idea – and sought assistance & signed up immediately. For the fall, he will be provided with a hearing device for the classroom, was granted longer time to take tests, and a different environment for taking exams (individual). I also helped Steve apply for the BSW program at UW-Casper. This was a 20 page application with MANY requirements. Getting this application completed was a huge accomplishment with all the letters required, and a tight time frame. With Kristi’s permission, EOC was apply to pay for his $30.00 application fee for the program. We were also able to set up tutoring services for him starting in August. Through the UW-Casper scholarship portal, Steve applied for 8 scholarships. He was granted one $1000.00 non-traditional, first generation scholarship.

Quite a few times, Steve wondered if all the work required to apply for this program was worth it, as he faced many obstacles. In May, he received notification that he was accepted into the BSW program at UWC – His dream of becoming a certified social worker will come true.

NWC has 50 TRIO Grads in 2016!

This year Northwest College’s SSS TRIO program in Powell, Wyoming had 51 graduates.  The NWC SSS program has been in operation for just over 15 years, and this is the largest class of graduates they have ever had in that time.  A few years ago, NWC TRIO started the tradition of inviting graduates to a photo shoot with the NWC College Photographer for a professional graduation photo.  During this photo shoot, graduates are asked to make a poster stating how TRIO has helped them.  This year graduates also sported “TRIO Works!” buttons on their graduation robes.  The associated photos are NWC College President Stefani Hicswa with a group of TRIO graduates at the photo shoot, a professional photo of a graduate, a professional photo of a graduate and their poster, NWC Student Senate President, and TRIO student, Sam Jones at the conclusion of his commencement speech.

April Wyoming EOC Student of the Month

Charlotte Bohren is the Wyoming EOC student of the Month for April.  Sheridan EOC coordinator, Katherine writes: I met Charlotte back in Feb 2014 at the WIC office as I was just getting a good start in EOC.  She is a veteran and has two children, then ages 1 & 6.  She told me that day that “Yeah, I should go back to school.”  She had an Associate Degree (General Studies) from Sheridan College and had taken some time off from school.  We worked together to get her FAFSA done and with help from the University of Wyoming Outreach coordinator here, she was enrolled in summer session a few months later.  She is now completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice through University of Wyoming.   I visited with her several times, especially the first year or so as most of her classes were in the building where my office is.  She never forgot to remind me that “I would not have done this IF it weren’t for you.”  When I called her back in March to tell her the new FAFSA changes and that I was available to help her renew her FAFSA, etc. I was thrilled to hear that she was going to graduate.  Today she, accompanied by her husband and 3-year old stopped by to get her picture taken and pick up her graduation gown.  The little guy really got a kick out of getting in the picture!  Her husband is so proud of her, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to do a little recruiting.  (He will be calling me when he is ready to finish college.)  Charlotte has truly been an inspiration to me and contributes much to why EOC is a rewarding job!

Going to the COE in Washington D.C.

I had the opportunity to be in Washington D.C. from April 7 – April 10 for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s NerdNation. As a TRIO student at Northwest College in Wyoming I have seen and experienced how much SSS has had an impact on me as a student. Prior to NerdNation I made efforts to reach out to the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) so I could witness where the magic of TRIO starts. On April 8th I had the privilege to not only have a tour of the COE but also in meeting with Al Phillips, Holly Hexter and Fernando Cardenas at the COE headquarters. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity because I was able to see first hand how much the COE cares about TRIO students and our future. Their passion for making a college education accessible for all of us was evident and inspiring. TRIO with the help of my great advisors has changed my life and has helped prepare me for a successful future. I am an advocate for TRIO and for the COE for all that they’ve done for me as an individual and for all of us. I appreciate and am fortunate for the advocacy of the COE on our behalf on Capitol Hill, they have and are continuing to change the lives of thousands. The difference they have made for all of us is real and we wouldn’t be here without them.

Thank you,

 

Sam Jones

NWC Student Senate President and TRIO student!