TRIO Day at the Capitol

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TRIO students inside the Colorado Capitol.

From left, CMC Rifle TRIO Student Support Services students Ashleigh Isley, Rose Mehus, Ivette Salazar, Vanessa Mendoza, Isaac Hinojos, Lisandio Chacón and Adrian Hernandez were among those who spent at TRIO Day at the Colorado Capitol.

By Monica Sanchez, TRIO SSS student, CMC Steamboat Springs, and Laurie Lawrence, TRIO executive director, Colorado Mountain College

Feb. 22 was a special day for a group of Colorado Mountain College students and staff. The group – all involved in TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded educational outreach program that is administered locally through CMC – visited the Colorado Capitol in Denver. Not only that, but because it was TRIO Day across the country, they got an inside look at how the state’s government works.

Twenty-two Colorado Mountain College students in the college’s TRIO SSS program visited the Colorado Legislature at the Capitol in Denver. The students met with legislators, celebrated the importance of TRIO programs and attended a legislative session.

CMC’s TRIO SSS students and staff from the college’s campuses in Summit County, the Vail Valley, Steamboat Springs, Rifle and Spring Valley near Glenwood Springs joined over 100 TRIO participants and staff from across Colorado.

The day started with happy chatter and breakfast with Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar, the state representative for District 46 in the Colorado House. Rep. Esgar had previously worked for Upward Bound, TRIO’s federally funded college-preparatory program. She took a few minutes to speak to the group before she had to leave for a legislative session.

At breakfast, several CMC students spoke about TRIO in an open public forum. They talked about TRIO’s impact on their lives and how the program has helped them navigate college successfully.

After breakfast, the CMC students and staff walked to the Capitol to participate in a legislative session in the House Chamber. Participants witnessed an acknowledgment of Colorado TRIO programs and the reading of a TRIO Day tribute on the floor of the House.

The students also heard Colorado legislators read stories from American Gold Star Mothers. The nonprofit organization is for those who have lost sons or daughters serving in the military.

“While we were there, at least 20 different representatives stood up and read letters from families who had lost a soldier in combat,” said Adolfo Vasquez, a TRIO SSS student from CMC Summit County. “Some of them actually cried when they read the letters. It made me feel like they were in touch with the people they represent.”

Afterward, students decorated meal bags for Project Angel, an organization that prepares and delivers meals to community members living with life-threatening illnesses.

“My favorite things about TRIO Day were meeting with some representatives, meeting other TRIO students from different schools and hearing their amazing stories,” said CMC Rifle TRIO SSS student Adrian Hernandez. “The best part was seeing for the first time the Denver Capitol inside and out and being able to see where the action happens.”