“National TRiO Day” is a day of celebration, reflection, and action around increased access to higher education for disadvantaged students. It was celebrated in Arkansas on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at University of Central Arkansas in Conway. TRiO programs from 14 of the state’s colleges and universities gathered for the event: Arkansas Northeastern College, Arkansas State University, Arkansas State University – Beebe, Arkansas State University – Heber Springs, College of the Ouachitas, East Arkansas Community College, Henderson State University, Lyon College, Ouachita Baptist University, Pulaski Technical College, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, and University of Central Arkansas.

 UCA students volunteering in “The Big Event” for service back to the community helped with the day by providing directions, welcoming visitors, working at the registration tables, entertaining the crowd, and performing the “Roll Call” to acknowledge those institutions and programs participating in the day. With over 200 of the proud high school and college students being served by the state’s TRiO programs in attendance, the day began with the reading of the official Proclamation of TRiO Day from Governor Asa Hutchinson. AASAP President Jeanette Youngblood and SWASAP President Mary Kate Snow gave their remarks of encouragement and inspiration before the keynote speaker addressed the crowd.

 The keynote speaker was Kelsey Lavigne, a TRiO alum from Lyon College’s APPLE Project Upward Bound who is now a Career Counselor at University of Arkansas, who spoke on the day’s theme, “The time is now!” Always a highlight of the day, Cody McMichael, Director of Upward Bound at Arkansas State University – Heber Springs, conducted the Arkansas’ TRiO Hall of Fame Presentation. One student from each program is nominated each year as a student who embodies the spirit of TRiO. Those students who were present received certificates for their hard work and accomplishments and in appreciation of their representation of the effectiveness of TRiO programs.

Another custom of the day is the Coins for College Scholarship. Students who attend are entered into a drawing to win a scholarship on TRiO Day by collecting their coins and donating them to be shared between one high school senior and one college student as a scholarship. Matthew Stringer from Arkansas Northeastern College and Kristal Brooks from Pulaski Technical College were the lucky winners. Michelle Hardin, AASAP Treasurer and Director of Upward Bound at University of Central Arkansas, presented each with a check for $135.50. In keeping with the mantra that “TRiO gives back,” baby items and towels were also collected and donated to the American Red Cross in Faulkner County.

 Arkansas’ TRiO Achiever, Kory Mullens, who is an alum of the Student Support Services program at Arkansas State University – Heber Springs and is now a teacher at Heber Springs Middle School, submitted a video message for the students with advice and encouragement on their journeys into and through post-secondary education. The day concluded with a presentation from UCA Admissions who also conducted campus tours for students. Reactions to the day received through evaluations were overwhelmingly positive! Many thanks to the TRiO Day Committee for their hard work and dedication to the event: Cory Godbolt from Lyon College and Jessie Beal from University of Central Arkansas.

 In 1986, Congress was asked by TRiO leaders to proclaim “National TRiO Day” in order to increase awareness and rally support for the programs. It is our hope that on this day, Arkansas continued that mission by communicating the significance of TRiO programs and celebrating the positive impact the programs have made in our state and our respective communities. TRiO works!