University of Wyoming – EOC student of the Month

Wyoming EOC Coordinator, Melisa Valtierra, has submitted October’s EOC Student of the Month!

Courtney Kudera is currently a freshman at the University of Wyoming in the pre-pharmacy program. Melisa worked with her last year when she was a senior at Little Snake River Valley in Baggs, WY.  As a student, Courtney was very involved and motivated, being that she was a first generation college student. She was involved in Student Council, FFA, National Honor Society, Science Club, and played volleyball, basketball and track. She hopes to eventually earn her Master’s degree and work in the Peace Corps when she completes school. Courtney also just recently won the TRIO EOC scholarship for Carbon County and is well on her way to achieving her dreams.



The Joy of McNair Scholars Program

mcnair-oct (1)Learning is joy, and McNair Scholar research at UND is a joy for both students and McNair mentors. Ms. Manna Khan recently joined the McNair Scholars program to advance her work in Geography. She is working with Dr. Christopher Atkinson and is keenly interested in water pollution in Bangladesh as it pertains to pollution sources and the connection and impact to human populations. The process of asking questions and seeking answers is a joy for Ms. Khan. Her mentor sees advancement in her character and aptitude for independent research even in the short time since work began. While this progression of student skill in research brings joy to Dr. Atkinson, the main focus of the McNair program is to help undergraduate students prepare for graduate-level research. In this regard, Ms. Khan sees the joy in learning at each and every McNair research session by taking good notes and bringing a positive attitude even though the focus of these meetings could be deemed “dry” by others. By working together and compromising when needed, Ms. Khan and her mentor developed a great working relationship during Summer 2014. During the Halloween weekend, Ms. Khan and other UND scholars from the McNair program travel to a conference in Wisconsin; Ms. Khan will discover the joy of sharing research discoveries. When she returns to UND, Ms. Khan knows the research she wants to pursue: she has recognized the joy of research when a plan is in place. Dr. Atkinson looks forward to helping her discover the joy of applying her research to an important topic and finding out what the results indicate for Bangladesh. The McNair Scholars program remains a very important segment of student opportunity at UND. The program creates solid results for students and professors alike as they strive to commonly pursue the mutual love and joy of research in common company.

Community Grant Awarded

Montana’s Missoula TRIO SSS was recently awarded a $5,000 Access Grant from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation to match an award from  Grizzly Riders International to help support a book loan program.  For the past seven years Grizzly Riders supported the implementation and financial support to help TRIO students with the ever-rising cost of textbooks.  Darlene Samson wrote a grant to the D & P Foundation and was notified in late August of a match.  Fall 2015 semester TRIO SSS was able to help 67 students with at least two textbooks at the cost of $5,100.  The remaining funding will be spent on spring semester.

Conference Chair message for ASPIRE 2015

Dear ASPIRE Colleagues,

On behalf of South Dakota ASPIRE, I would like to welcome you to the 2015 Regional ASPIRE Conference.  We are honored to host you in our beautiful state and thank you for taking the time our of your busy schedules to attend the conference.

Our conference theme, Celebrating History Creating Momentum, reminds us of the valuable contributions TRIO programs have made in the lives of low-income, first generation students and students with disabilities throughout the past 51 years. Moving forward, the Coference Committee encourages you to create momentum for TRIO programs, the value of education and in the service you provide to your students!

We are fortunate to have special guests from the Council for Opportunity in Education in attendance and extend our warmest ASPIRE hospitality to Maureen Hoyler, President of COE and to Trent Ball, COE Board Chair.

The 2015 Regional ASPIRE Conference Committee has worked diligently to provide you with wonderful professional development and networking opportunities that include distinguished keynote speakers and breakout presenters. Please join me in thanking them for all thier exceptional knowledge, organization and hard work.

We hope that you enjoy your time in Rapid City and in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.


Becky Jensen

2015 ASPIRE Conference Chair

Welcome from your ASPIRE President for ASPIRE 2015

Welcome from your ASPIRE President,

Jamie Manzanares


I would like to personally welcome each of you to the 2015 Annual ASPIRE Conference! We are so glad you are here with us for what promises to be our best and most memorable event yet! Becky Jensen and her committee of volunteers have packed all three days with rousing breakout sessions, workshops, as well the chance to meet amazing professionals from all over the ASPIRE Region.

As hundreds of us have converged in Rapid City, South Dakota with unique backgrounds and different experiences, we are almost certainly agree on one thing: TRIO Works! It is an exciting time for our Region as we continue to grow and adapt, remaining always motivated and responsive to the needs of the first-generation, low-income students we provide services to. Because of this, you make dreams come true!

As I close, I would like to thank each of you for attending our conference and bringing your expertise to our gathering. You, as professionals, have the vision, the knowledge, and the experience to help us pave the way into the future. You are truly our greatest asset today and tomorrow, and we could not accomplish what we are doing without your support and leadership. Throughout this conference, I ask you to stay engaged, keep us proactive, and help us shape the future of ASPIRE! My personal respect and thanks goes out to all of you!



Jamie Manzanares

ASPIRE President 2014-2015

Westminster McNair Scholars Attend Berkeley Research Symposium

At the beginning of August, ten students from the Westminster College McNair Scholars Program presented their summer research at the 23rd Annual McNair Scholars Symposium at the University of California at Berkeley.  They were a great success!  This symposium includes a number of components designed to enhance graduate school preparation.  Students visited Stanford University, networked with faculty and graduate students, attended a graduate school fair, heard special sessions on careers and graduate study in STEM fields, received graduate admission advice from nationally-known speaker Don Asher, and guidance from a panel of California-based graduate school admissions professionals.  The symposium concludes with a cruise on the San Francisco Bay; students danced and dined with hundreds of McNair Scholars from across the country– they especially enjoyed meeting the cohort from another ASPIRE program at the University of Northern Colorado. Each year, the Berkeley Symposium is a highlight of our services, and a fine way to conclude the intense and busy summer research program.

Talent Search alumnus continues educational path


My name is Bethany O’Connell and I am a 2015 graduate of Dupree High School on the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. I am a TRIO Talent Search alumnus who is continuing on her educational path. This fall, I plan to attend the University of Minnesota, Morris to pursue a four year degree in Environmental Science. In the future I hope to use my education to bring awareness to environmental issues on my home reservation as well as across the country.

Although my final year of high school was somewhat stressful, with help from my school guidance and my TRIO Talent Search counselors and my parents I decided to apply for a number of scholarships. I am happy to have received a couple of local scholarships, but the best one I was awarded is the Gates Millennium Scholarship. I am so grateful because now I will be able to realize my long term goals!

I am also very interested in joining the Peace Corps and working with youth in developing countries. If that doesn’t work out, at least I want to be a motivator and mentor to children and teenagers on my reservation. Through my example, I want to be able to model how important it is to get a college education and follow a career path that will have a positive influence on the people and community. I feel that many young people do not learn at home how essential a high school education is, much less how important it is to earn a college degree.

In conclusion, my advice to incoming seniors is to apply for as many scholarships as possible so your academic dreams can be accomplished.



Talent Search students collaborate with Spirit Lake Youth Inter-Agency

Cankdeska Cikana Community College’s TRIO Talent Search collaborated with the Spirit Lake Youth Inter-Agency to take 23 high school students from Four Winds, Devils Lake, Warwick and Minnewaukan schools to the Youth Leadership Conference held in Park Rapids, MN on April 24-26, 2015.  The three days was spent at the Boy Scouts Camp Wilderness where the students engaged in various leadership and team building skills.  They were also given the opportunity to attempt the rock climbing wall and the zip-line obstacle course.  The night time activities consisted of bowling and a movie for all to enjoy!