Athens, W.Va. – Student leaders from the two Virginias converged on the campus of Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., February 25 through 27, for the fourth annual TRIO Student Leadership Conference. Attending on behalf of Concord were three Concord University students involved in the Student Support Services (SSS) Program, as well as one Concordian who serves as a student counselor for the Upward Bound Classic (CUB) Program. Representing SSS were: Jesse Call of Pocahontas, Va., Ashley Hackney of Kenna, and Michael Yates of Oak Hill. The student counselor for CUB was Shamela Hale of Kimball.
The students traveled to the State Capitol in Charleston to hear Governor Joe Manchin give a press conference and then make a declaration of TRIO Day.
Students who attended the TRIO conference were able to attend workshops on communication, leadership styles, career information, personal growth, overcoming boundaries, writing skills, public speaking and diversity.
Dr. Marjie Flanigan, director of SSS at Concord and president-elect of the West Virginia Association for Educational Opportunities Program Personnel (WVAEOPP), conducted “Zoom,” a workshop which focused on developing good communications skills.
Ashley Hackney, who attended the conference, said, “There were many leadership activities that I learned that could benefit the SSS as a group because they could use them during things such a peer mentor training or tutor training.”
A town hall meeting was also held where students in TRIO’s college programs met to discuss the impact that TRIO had on their lives. They also discussed the new federal budget proposed by President George W. Bush that would eliminate the Upward Bound programs.
Upward Bound, and Math and Science Upward Bound, are two TRIO Programs that prepare high school students for college life through residential summer programs at colleges and weekend workshops. Students can earn up to six hours of college credit in the summer residential program. There is also a Veterans Upward Bound program to assist veterans who want to attend college.
Concord University houses the Upward Bound and Math and Science Upward Bound programs for southern West Virginia.
In the town hall meeting, students discussed ways to promote Upward Bound programs to their legislators in an effort to continue helping disadvantaged students to feel that college is within their reach.
The last night of the leadership conference was the Anne Crum Leadership Banquet. Remarks were made by Barbara Harmon-Schamberger, an alumna of TRIO’s programs who became West Virginia University’s first Rhodes Scholar. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D.-W.Va., provided the keynote address.
“Since coming to the U.S. Senate to represent West Virginia more than twenty years ago, I have been a strong advocate for the TRIO programs. I still remember going to the House as a young Senator to introduce a distinguished West Virginia TRIO alumna, who had studied at Harvard and won a Rhodes scholarship, Barbara Harmon-Schamberger. It was a special opportunity to highlight the importance and potential of TRIO. While not every TRIO alumnus may win such a scholarship to study abroad, each of you will have unique opportunities throughout your lives thanks to these programs which help you continue your education,” said Rockefeller.
Rockefeller talked about his belief in the success of TRIO programs, and that he would continue to support these programs despite efforts to remove them from the budget.
“I believed in TRIO then, and I still do,” Rockefeller announced. “Change can begin with TRIO, and your step toward a college education. The value of a college education will be absolutely critical as you and your generation navigates in our turbulent, global world. At college, you will gain knowledge, learn to think critically, and to explore multiple perspectives. You will develop the analytical skills necessary to grasp context and make informed choices. And hopefully, you will develop the intellectual and moral acuity necessary to discover common ground in conflict resolution,” Rockefeller concluded.
Barbara Harmon-Schamberger was on hand for the event and took time to make remarks about Rockefeller. She gave an emotional speech emphasizing how TRIO had changed her life and helped her overcome her struggles and gain the honor of a Rhodes Scholar. She praised Rockefeller for his hard work, mentioning the time he visited the U.S. House of Representatives as a Senator when she was testifying about TRIO’s effectiveness.
“[Harmon-Schamberger] was a fantastic speaker,” said Hackney. “I enjoyed the keynote speakers of the banquet the best,” she continued.
TRIO is a 40-year-old federal program which includes other agencies that support low income, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. The programs start helping students in middle school and cover them all the way through graduate school. According to the U.S. Department of Education website, “The Federal TRIO Programs are educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Jesse Call, a student in Concord University’s political science department, wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.
Corrie McKee, a staff writer for “The Concordian,” the University’s student newspaper, contributed to this release. Her hometown is Nitro, W.Va.