Two Southern Utah University employees have been recognized by the national student support group TRIO for their dedication to assisting first-generation college students from low-income families or students with disabilities. Carmen Alldredge, coordinator of services for students with disabilities, was awarded Friend of Aspire, and Mark Leavitt, math lab coordinator, was awarded the TRIO Achiever award.
With more than 160 current SUU students who are actively involved in TRIO and more than 500 high school and middle school students across Iron County who are enrolled in partner programs, such as Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, Alldredge and Leavitt certainly have their share of work, albeit rewarding. That their efforts have attracted broader attention from the esteemed TRIO program is of little surprise to Lynne Brown, executive director of the Student Support Center.
“Students within TRIO Student Support Services are twice as likely to remain in college compared to students with similar backgrounds who do not receive additional moral and logistical support," said Brown. "This is largely to the credit of our wonderful employees, like Mark and Carmen, who work tirelessly every day to help our students succeed.”
Allredge has been working alongside SUU TRIO Student Support Services for the last eight years to inspire students with disabilities to persist through college and earn their degrees.
“It is fantastic to receive this great accolade, but what is truly inspiring is to see these students, who suffer with a variety of disabilities, succeed and obtain their diploma even though many don’t receive emotional or fiscal support from their families,”said Alldredge.
Leavitt, a recipient of the TRIO program while a student at SUU himself, has overcome many challenges to first complete an undergraduate and then graduate program. That he is now able to give back to the program that helped give him his start is a daily reminder of just how far he has come and testament of the great potential within every one of the students he helps.
“To receive this award you have to be nominated by a fellow employee," explains Leavitt. "That nomination means more to me than being given the plaque. All of us here at Student Support Services work incredibly hard to teach students that no matter their disability, great or small, they can achieve an education.”
TRIO is a national college access program and gives students aspiring to go to college or who are already in college aid, whether that be financially or academically. The TRIO program started more than 45 years ago at the federal level and now serves students from low income or first generation college families and students with disabilities at universities, high schools and middle schools across the nation to empower them to complete a post-secondary education.