SSS students participate in TRiO Day at State Capitol

Kevin Noriega speaks during the annual TRiO day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (Photo provided by Avery Richburg)

By Ronna Fisher, Assistant editor

Twenty-five SSS students and five faculty boarded a bus for TRiO Day at the Oklahoma State Captiol on Wednesday, February 20.

Students were able to sit in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and hear from distinguished professionals like the Honorable Tom Cole, U.S. representative of the 4th district of Oklahoma, the only registered Native American in Congress, and a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

To hear, “We think you’re worth it,” from important people was really encouraging for many of the students.

“TRiO day helped me to see that although we are a government funded group of programs, there are people who care about us behind the legislation. It’s not just another aid program, but it’s people fighting for us to have a better chance at success in our lives. It was reassuring to see and know that there are people in our Nation’s government who care about us,” senior SSS member Maranda Tez said.

SNU student Kevin Noriega also had the opportunity to speak.

“It was pretty awesome to see another TRiO member speak at the House, especially when it’s one of your friends!” Tez said.

Noriega shared about life events that led to his involvement in SSS and McNair Scholars. He explained how much being a part of TRiO programs has changed his life and given him enough support to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.

“I was honored to speak to speak in front of all those students, and I was excited to feel that I was going to be heard by other students just like me, first generation and low income,” Noriega said. “It was above everything a blessing to see that others had an interest in my story, and I stood up there hopting that I could motivate one person to keep going in their college career and be the change in their families.”

The opportunity to hear from successful adults that have benefitted from TRiO programs was exciting and encouraging. At the end of the day SSS Program Administrator Robyn Bryan reflected, “I felt inspired, encouraged, and motivated as I listened to the speakers. It was a great day to celebrate TRiO and the opportunities it provides to our students.”

TRiO is three federally funded student support organizations: Student Support Services (SSS), McNair Scholars, and Upward Bound.

“SSS is an organization that lends support academically or personally to help students who are under resourced realize the dream of college education,” Bryan said.

TRiO Day is a time for TRiO students from different college campuses to come together and listen to speakers who support TRiO and encourage them to continue fulfilling their college dream and students whose lives have been affected by TRiO programs.