TRIO Joliet Central Talent Search celebrates successful fall semester

The TRIO Joliet Central Talent Search Program hosted their "Fall Semester Recap & Program Celebration", on Thursday, December 14, at the Joliet Central High School Student Center.

The purpose of the event was to celebrate the TRIO program's success during the fall semester, to thank their students who have completed applications, and acknowledge their commitment to the program in a fun, relaxing educational environment.

Dean Townsend, a current TRIO professional and motivational speaker that works with at-risk high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds, provided some

encouraging words to the program's students titled "You Are The MVP: Most Valuable Person", which resonated well with the student population. As a Joliet Central High School alumnus, Townsend was able to further relate to the students and serve as a role model through his story. Students also won "Woke" t-shirts for answering questions related to Townsend's speech and the values of TRIO.

Following Townsend's keynote speech, TRIO participant Guadalupe Medina, who is in 11th grade, made an exciting announcement. "I've recently been awarded the YSA and Disney Be Inspired Grant for $500 to renovate the playground at Cunningham

Elementary School. When I was little, we got the park renovated, and I made a lot of

great friends and memories there. Through this grant, the next generation of

Cunningham students can have the great experiences that I had."

The event also featured student testimonials, an open-mic for student performances

of poetry and music, and a student-led reading of the TRIO Pledge. The event was

full of positive energy, as the students smiled, sang, and danced to celebrate all

they have achieved.

Freshman Sharice McClendon said, "TRIO has been great! Through this program, I have explored different colleges and expanded my views on what career I may choose in the future. One of my favorite experiences was going to the Field Museum in Chicago and visiting different colleges. I feel like TRIO is my one big chance where I can go and plan my future."

In addition to helping students explore colleges and careers, TRIO has also

supported students in improving their academic performance. Freshman Alex Cervantes said, "I've really enjoyed the vibe, the people, and how much they care for us. Thanks to TRIO, I got straight A's this semester."

Sophomore Anthony Garcia added with a heartfelt smile, "It's been awesome. Through

TRIO, I meet great new people. When you meet new people at TRIO, you meet new

friends. And when you meet these new friends, you meet your new family."