CCC TRiO students get chance to 'dream big'


CCC students and members of TRiO Student Support Services visited three universities recently.


Flagstaff, Ariz. - Their journey took them through three states over five days in May.


The purpose: Open up their horizons to the possibilities of education.


Eight Coconino Community College students took a tour of three universities and got a glimpse of the wider world during a field trip to Nevada, Utah and Colorado. They visited Fort Lewis College, Dixie State University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The trip was organized by CCC's TRiO Student Support Services.


"The trip was unbelievable, like a dream," said TRiO student Michael Walbridge. "It felt like, 'What did I do to deserve this beautiful trip?'"


Walbridge added: "It was a beautiful experience to be able to travel with a group of friends. When I got back, I was actually a little sad because I got used to this tight group."


Jessica Laessig, CCC's TRiO Project Director, said, "One of the main goals is to expose students to other colleges they may not have considered a possibility. It helps students from underprivileged backgrounds get this access."


She also said that the trip provided cultural opportunities as well. The field trip gave the students that chance to look beyond just Flagstaff and see what's out there.


"It let them dream big," Laessig said.


Becky Pineda, TRiO Retention Specialist Sr., said that the students also visited Zion National Park, Monument Valley, two museums and even a Broadway show.


"Watching these students connect throughout this trip, it was amazing how quickly they connected," Pineda said.


She added that it was also inspiring to watch the students expand their educational horizons and realize the possibilities they can explore.


Student Paul Bearchell, who is President of the CCC TRiO Club and a mentor in the TRiO Mentoring Program, said that his favorite part of the trip was building camaraderie with his fellow students.


"It really tightened that friendship bond that we had, and I think it was really enjoyable," Bearchell said. "We had fun the entire time. The team really bonded well."


For Walbridge, who is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, of the colleges visited, UNLV appealed to him the most. He visited the psychology building (because he plans to study psychology) and he enjoyed the architecture, sports program and the gym facilities. Also, there's a great Marine Corps Ball in Vegas, he said with a smile.


"But they all had their major pluses," Walbridge added.


He plans to apply.


"I'm going to try," he said. "But I have to get my associate first."


His ultimate dream is to get a bachelor degree and, with hope, head onto graduate school to continue studying psychology.


Laessig said that more trips are planned for the future. Additionally, TRiO Student Support Services is planning Student Leadership Retreats and Summer Bridge activities for incoming freshmen.


The Student Support Services (SSS) program provides support services to low-income students, first-generation college students, and disabled students enrolled in post-secondary education programs. Eligible students may receive, among other services, personal and academic career counseling, career guidance, instruction, mentoring and tutoring. The goal of the SSS program is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next.


The trip, which covered all travel, lodging, meals and other expenses, was made possible with funds from a five-year, $1 million grant to CCC from the U.S. Department of Education to support TRiO programs throughout the country.


Alec Bodemer contributed to this report.



Thursday, 6th July 2017

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  • Thursday, 6th July 2017