Students honored as families’ first college graduates

4/27/2010 - By: Natalie Savidge

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Upward Bound, TRiO and McNair Scholars Graduation Celebration at 7 p.m. this Wednesday will recognize the great accomplishments of students graduating this spring, many who are low-income, first generation in college, or underrepresented students of color.

U.S. Congress established a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America's economic and social life. These programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRiO Programs. TRiO programs, including the University’s Upward Bound and McNair Scholars, help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education, offering hope and support to those who need and desire it.

“My parents are a big part in my life and they were the ones who kept encouraging me to go to college,” said Alejandro “Alex” Martinez, a TRiO Scholar and the first in his family to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree. “They are the reason why I am here today.”

Martinez managed to persevere despite his commute from Carson City, working a number of jobs, coaching football, tutoring Spanish and volunteering. He will earn his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University’s Reynolds’s School of Journalism.

“I'm the first-generation college graduate in my family and I love to learn every day,” he said. “One of the main reasons why I keep myself occupied in so many things is because my father once said, ‘You have time to do anything you want in this world.’ Those words mean so much to me.”

Rita Escher, director of the Academic and Opportunity Support Programs at the University, said that there will be many inspirational stories heard at this year’s graduation celebration.

“Alex has an extremely optimistic attitude and positive disposition,” she said. “He brings energy with him wherever he goes. He motivates and inspires his peers constantly.”

More than 1,000 colleges, universities, community colleges and agencies now offer TRIO Programs in America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. TRIO funds are distributed to institutions through competitive grants.

WHAT: University of Nevada, Reno Upward Bound, TRiO and McNair Scholars Graduation Celebration

WHO: Upward Bound, TRiO and McNair programs scholars, President Milt Glick and other University of Nevada, Reno officials

WHEN: 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 28

WHERE: Joe Crowley Student Union, Ballroom C, Fourth Floor, University of Nevada, Reno

For more information on each of the programs, please visit Upward Bound, Trio Scholars or McNair Scholars.


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