Students Give Back During National TRIO Day
By Eric Breier
Alexa Diaz is grateful for the assistance she has received from TRIO during her time at Cal State San Marcos.
So she welcomed the opportunity to help others during National TRIO Day on Feb. 24.
“For us to have so many students show up and participate really shows how appreciative students are of the help they get,” said Alexa, who will graduate in spring 2019 with degrees in human development and Spanish.
Since 1986, National TRIO Day has been held on the last Saturday of February to focus on the needs of disadvantaged people who aspire to improve their lives.
This year’s event marked the first time that all four CSUSM TRIO programs – Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services and McNair – collaborated on National TRIO Day. CSUSM TRIO members visited Vista-based Solutions for Change, which works to permanently solve family homelessness by helping families acquire the skills, knowledge and resources they need.
“It was a great experience,” said Carmen Camarena, who will graduate in spring 2019 with a biological sciences degree. “It was really rewarding, especially knowing where those families are coming from and the commitment that it takes to actually finish the process to get back on their feet.”
For the National TRIO Day project, students did everything from cleaning a house to yardwork to sorting through donations. They also hosted arts and crafts activities for children at Solutions for Change.
“Solutions for Change makes sure people know how to handle themselves, from managing time to handling finances to figuring out what to do if they get in a bind,” said Britany Dagen, who will graduate in spring 2019 with a bachelor’s in literature and writing studies.
Alexa, Britany and Carmen each said TRIO has played in important role in their education. Alexa and Britany each got involved with TRIO in high school while Carmen has been part of the program since middle school.
Alexa and Carmen are part of TRIO Student Support Services, which assists first-generation, low-income and/or students with disabilities toward the successful completion of their college degree. Britany is part of TRIO McNair, which helps students graduate while ensuring that they have the opportunity to attend graduate school.
“TRIO taught me things that I wouldn’t have learned on my own,” Carmen said.
Participating in National TRIO Day has had a lasting impact on all three of them.
“Giving back to people is really inspiring for all of us,” Britany said. “It was a really rewarding day. It’s my favorite community service that I’ve ever done. It just woke you up and made me really grateful for what I have.”
Britany has already looked into doing more with Solutions for Change. She is hoping to apply the knowledge she has gained from her literature and writing studies to assist adults and children in the program who need literacy help.
As the students finished their volunteer efforts on National TRIO Day, a Solutions for Change representative encouraged them to think about one way they can each give back, whether it’s to Solutions for Change or another organization. Alexa is already working with CSUSM’s chapter of the academic honor society Alpha Lambda Delta to see if there’s something they can do to help.
“National TRIO Day really made me think about ways we could continue this in some way,” Alexa said. “It was very eye-opening and inspiring.”
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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