STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Just a few years ago, it was hard for Eleysa Schofield to imagine how she would achieve her dream of attending college. Now, she is a successful student at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs and one of only two 2020 Colorado ASPIRE TRIO Achievers, chosen from 17,000 participating students in 59 TRIO organizations across the state.

Elyesa Schofield

CMC Steamboat student Eleysa Schofield, here at Lookout Mountain above Golden, has been named a Colorado TRIO Achiever award recipient.

Partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO programs help low-income, first-generation students and those with disabilities access higher education. Colorado Mountain College offers TRIO support services at its Steamboat campus, as well as campuses at Spring Valley near Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Vail Valley at Edwards and Leadville.

The purpose of the Colorado Chapter of ASPIRE is to provide professional development and education policy advocacy for TRIO professionals in the state.

Schofield credits TRIO, and Amy Phillips, her campus’s TRIO Student Support Services coordinator, with putting a college education within reach.

“My senior year in high school, I was a homeless independent youth with a 4.0 GPA, wondering if there were any resources for someone like me to go to college,” she said. “Academics were a priority, but so were my other bills.”

In the fall of 2017, she took a leap of faith and signed up for classes at CMC Steamboat Springs.

At orientation, she learned about the opportunities and funding that TRIO could help her to access. With assistance from Phillips, Schofield applied to the program. Soon after, she was accepted and awarded her first scholarship.

“When you’re working full time and going to school full time, the gift of time a scholarship provides is priceless,” Schofield said.

Scholarship in hand, she jumped into every opportunity the TRIO program offered. She worked closely with an advisor and attended every student success seminar offered. Now she serves as the student body president of the campus’s Student Government Association.

TRIO support available – and on solid ground

Beyond funding, TRIO has helped connect Schofield to countless academic and career advancement opportunities, including tutoring support, work-study jobs and professional internships. Recently, the college secured a new five-year grant to support TRIO services, helping ensure programming for CMC students like Schofield in the future.

Now, even during a global pandemic, Schofield is forging ahead toward her educational goals. This summer, when she was furloughed from her job due to COVID-19 concerns, TRIO funding helped her stay in school. Phillips also helped her connect with the college’s new CMC Responds: Back to Work Scholarship, which she was awarded at the beginning of fall semester. Schofield is now nearing completion of her associate degree and plans to earn her bachelor’s by the spring of 2021.

“TRIO support gave me the confidence to commit to the four-year degree,” she said. “I really couldn’t have achieved a lot of what I’ve accomplished without it. I want to give other students the awareness and courage to ask about these resources. The benefits of this program have been unreal.”

For more information about Colorado Mountain College’s TRIO Student Support Services, visit Colorado Mountain College’s TRIO Support Services.