The University of New Mexico Student Support Services-TRiO Program recently awarded 13 students the Collin Smith-Levin Achievement award which provides federal grant aid for students.

The following awardees are all Pell grant recipients currently enrolled as full-time students at UNM: Mayra Alvarado, Tatiana Burkes, Gabriel Chacon, Tracy Chacon, Cuong Dinh, Natalie Hernandez, Amy Leyva, Oscar Munoz, John Pham, Tiffany Pineda, Alison Rodriguez, Ellen Scott and Greg Soliz.  

"All of the students have shown great commitment to their education and the SSS program," said Dawn BlueSky-Hill, SSS program specialist.

Alvardo plans to use the award to pay for tuition, class fees, textbooks and other educational expenses. "I am the first in my family to attend college, and making the transition from high school to college was a difficult task because my parents have limited knowledge of college," she said.

SSS-TRiO is Chacon's home away from home, his "support to lean on when things get hard," and he needs advice.

"A total of $10,000 was awarded at the end of the 2011-12 academic year and this award enables SSS participants to continue their education at UNM while keeping loans at a minimum," BlueSky-Hill said. 

"The award really helps," Chacon said, "because when I am less stressed about bills, I am able to better concentrate on the tasks at hand such as homework and quizzes, which can be stressful in themselves.

UNM Student Support Services -TRiO was established by the U.S. Department of Education in 1965 to provide supportive services for individuals from first-generation backgrounds to encourage students to earn their bachelor's degree. SSS is designed to motivate and support students in pursuit of their college degree with services including academic advisement, tutoring/mentoring and cultural activities.  

For more information on the program, contact BlueSky-Hill at 277-3230 or visit Student Support Services-TRiO.