CALDWELL, Idaho — Joselyn Gutierrez, a current Caldwell High School senior, recalls being timid when she first joined the TRIO program her freshman year.
“I didn’t really believe in myself and I felt like I didn’t have a voice,” Gutierrez said.
Things have changed for her now with the support of the TRIO staff and other classmates in the program.
“Through being in TRIO, I was able to find my voice just because I had that support of having people believing in myself and being surrounded with people who are like me who face the same challenges that I do. It felt I had people to rely on and people who wanted to see me succeed,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez is a first-generation student and on Nov. 8, 2021, some Caldwell High School TRIO Upward Bound students and educators joined Governor Brad Little at the Capitol building as he proclaimed First-Generation College Day.
The state of Idaho is working to get more kids to go on to pursue post-secondary education, whether that's a community college, university, or a trade school. First-Generation College Day is part of that push.
Nov. 8 also marks as First-Generation College Celebration.
“Here at Caldwell High School, this is the fourth year we celebrated, and the purpose of it to help raise awareness around being first-generation in support for those students who will be the first in their family to go to college, neither parent having a four-year college degree," said Joshua Engler, education specialist BSU TRIO Upward Bound Program.
The celebration also recognizes the anniversary of when the Higher Education Act of 1965 was signed. The act was a pathway for the creation of federal programs and educational assistance to help students achieve higher education. The TRIO program is one of those educational support resources.
“We’ll do college exploration, career exploration, SAT prep, we have time set aside for the tutorial which is a time to work on homework from other classes or prepare for tests,” Engler said. “I think, though, probably one of the most important things is the culture and support that we have in the classroom. So, students can be with other students who are experiencing similar challenges but also similar success as well.”
Gutierrez plans to pursue a four-year degree in biomedical engineering. She says her family is her biggest inspiration.
My mom is also a person who inspires me the most to go into college,” she said.
The students under the TRIO Upward Bound Program work together to come up with the activities and workshops to participate in for the First-Generation College Celebration.
The activities include writing a thank you card to people that have supported them in their education endeavors, a panel on first-generation students sharing their experiences, and workshop opportunities for students.