Former students honored during national TRIO day reception

National TRIO Day is a day for celebration around the increased access to higher education for disadvantaged students.

Every year, high school and college students, teachers, TRIO Program staff, alumni and others turn their attention to the needs of young people and adults across the nation who are aspiring to help improve their lives.

TRIO programs were established in 1965 to help low-income Americans have an opportunity to enter college, graduate, and be successful after graduation.

The South Plains Area TRIO Programs hosted a TRIO Achiever Reception to honor selected achievers. There were six TRIO achievers honored at the event, including two former South Plains College students, held on April 18 in the Matador Room of the Student Union Building at Texas Tech University.

These programs have assisted students in overcoming many of the obstacles they face as the first in their families to attend and graduate from college. More than 10.5 million students have been benefited from these programs.

National TRIO Day is an event that is celebrated by the Upward Bound program at SPC, Learn Inc. Educational Center and Talent Search in Lubbock, Texas Tech University McNair Scholars Program and Student Support Services, and the STAR Center Program at SPC.

Each of these programs recognized two students during the event. SPC honored Diana Garza of the STAR Center and Maria Guadalupe (Lupita) Nevarez of the Upward Bound program.

Garza joined the STAR Center in the fall of 2016. While attending SPC, she was a non-traditional student who had to learn to manage her time between family, academics, and work.

Garza took advantage of the services provided by the program, serving as a tutor for the program and being involved with its student organization activities.

Garza graduated from SPC with her Associate of Science degree in May 2017. Recently, she also completed her Registered Nursing Diploma from the Covenant School of Nursing.

She was recognized for her educational and professional achievements, as well as for her professional dedication to the pursuit of a higher education.

Manuel Cedillo, academic coordinator of the Star Center, said that the STAR Center is proud of Garza for achieving her academic goals and using her nursing degree to make a difference in her patients’ lives.

Nevarez was a freshman at Whiteface High School when she joined the Upward Bound Program at SPC in 2010. After graduation, she began working at Covenant Medical Center as a Registered Nurse.

While in high school, she participated in various extracurriculars activities, including band, playing on the basketball team, and serving as a member of the Science National Honors Society, a member of student council, and WHS debate team, among other clubs and organizations.

Nevarez graduated from WHS in 2014 and transferred to SPC, where she joined Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the STAR Center. She also served as a Campus Ambassador, and as a wing advisor in the dorms. She also had the opportunity to shadow a nurse, which helped her realize her own desire to become a nurse.

After being accepted into the SPC nursing program, Nevarez completed her Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing in May 2017. She became a licensed registered nurse (RN) and began working for University Medical Center in Lubbock immediately after graduation because she is bilingual and due to her preparation in high school as a participant in Upward Bound.