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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Phil Kenkel, director of TRIO programs at Northwest, takes in Saturday's TRIO Day program with Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski and first lady Denise Jasinski. Northwest TRIO recognized the Jasinskis with its TRIO Champion award.

Phil Kenkel, director of TRIO programs at Northwest, takes in Saturday's TRIO Day program with Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski and first lady Denise Jasinski. Northwest TRIO recognized the Jasinskis with its TRIO Champion award. (Photos by Darren Whitley/University Relations)

Feb. 23, 2014

TRIO recognizes Jasinskis, alumni for achievements, commitment

Northwest TRIO recognized alumnae Dr. Keely Cline, Jessica Bowen and Precious Porras with its TRIO Achiever award during a TRIO Day celebration Saturday. The women expressed gratitude for the values they developed through Upward Bound and the impacts the program had on developing them into well-rounded individuals.

Northwest TRIO recognized alumnae Dr. Keely Cline, Jessica Bowen and Precious Porras with its TRIO Achiever award during a TRIO Day celebration Saturday. The women expressed gratitude for the values they developed through Upward Bound and the impacts the program had on developing them into well-rounded individuals.

Northwest Missouri State University’s TRIO program honored three alumni Saturday with the prestigious TRIO Achiever award, while Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski and first lady Denise Jasinski were celebrated as TRIO Champions.

The celebration featured inspirational messages from TRIO alumni and included a review of the TRIO program’s history at Northwest. A series of breakout sessions also focused on topics such as TRIO advocacy and identifying student success.

TRIO is a federally recognized educational outreach program designed for students with disadvantaged backgrounds. It serves as an umbrella organization for Northwest programs consisting of Student Support Services, Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science. Collectively, the programs seek to motivate and support students to overcome class, social and cultural academic barriers to accessing and succeeding in higher education.

“We’ve grown this program and seen it become prominent throughout the United States of America,” Jasinski said during his opening remarks, which included the presentation of a proclamation commemorating Saturday as TRIO Day at Northwest. “As we go around and talk about Northwest Missouri State University family, that family is huge. It extends way beyond our immediate families and includes everyone who has a goal in providing these impactful services. TRIO does work, and it works because of each and every one of you and your efforts.”

The important roles that family and support systems play was a common theme during Saturday’s program as Northwest TRIO staff recognized Jessica Bowen, Dr. Keely Cline and Precious Porras with TRIO Achiever awards. Achiever nominees must have successfully completed a post-secondary program of study resulting in a baccalaureate or terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education and are considered to be of high stature in their field.

During their remarks, the honorees reflected on the values they developed by participating in Upward Bound and the impacts the program had on developing them into well-rounded individuals.

Bowen is an accelerated student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., and will graduate in May with her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Bowen also earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Northwest in 2006 and completed a master’s degree in historical studies in 2013 from Nebraska Wesleyan University. She began the accelerated nursing program a week later, a goal she developed after being diagnosed with cancer in 2007.

“Upward Bound Math and Science broke me out of my shell,” Bowen said. “It gave me a strong foundation and fueled my dreams to become a reality. In one summer I grew so much that when I reapplied for subsequent summers and got accepted, I knew I didn’t have to go back. I got to go back. For those phenomenal summers, they transformed me.”

Cline is project director for the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Northwest in 2004, her master’s in 2006 and her doctorate in developmental psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010. 

“Upward Bound is a place where I always felt safe to dream,” said Cline, who initially hoped to become a medical doctor. “When I came to Upward Bound and announced that, I never had anyone discourage me or make me feel like that wasn’t something that was attainable. Rather, I had a support system of people who gave me the resources to think about how I could make that dream into a reality. Through that process, through thinking and planning and coming up with the ideas of how to work toward that, I gained a skillset that I was able to take with me throughout my life.”  

Porras is associate director for diversity and social justice education in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Northwest in 2002 and her master’s degree in counseling and student personnel from Emporia State University in 2004. She is completing her education doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Kansas.

“When I say I would not be here if it weren’t for TRIO, I mean it,” Porras said. “TRIO gave me my life. The countless conversations, experiences and people I worked with along the way made me who I am today. All of my life experiences were shaped by TRIO. I have no words of gratitude for the amazing professors who helped me get where I am today. Instead, I work to pay it forward.”

Unlike the Achiever honorees, the Jasinskis were unaware when they arrived Saturday that they would receive the TRIO Champion award. Phil Kenkel, director of TRIO programs at Northwest, praised the Jasinkis for their vision and commitment to the mission of TRIO and noted the organization presents its Champion award sparingly.

The Jasinskis have been strong supporters of the program since arriving at Northwest in 1986, and Denise Jasinski worked as a tutor and academic coordinator for Upward Bound for eight years.  

“One of the reasons we have never failed in getting a TRIO grant we have submitted is because our university is committed to TRIO,” Kenkel said. “We’re asking that Northwest support the ideals through allowing us to have the space to operate our programs, for allowing us to make sure that we’re financially able to operate the programs, and Northwest has always been very committed.”

TRIO was founded in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, giving birth to Upward Bound as an experimental program. Today, more than 1,000 colleges, universities and community entities host more than 2,700 different TRIO programs, which serve about 840,000 students nationwide and help them become prepared, motivated and excited about attaining a college degree.

Northwest’s Upward Bound, founded in 1986, has helped hundreds of high school students realize their goals of attending college and finding success. The program annually serves 70 high school students from seven high schools in northwest Missouri: King City, Maryville, Northeast Nodaway, Rock Port, Stanberry, Tarkio and West Nodaway. Open to students who, are in their freshman year of high school or older, Upward Bound is designed to help students build self-confidence while preparing them for the academic, social and cultural challenges of college life.

During the school year, Upward Bound students gather on the Northwest campus once a month to participate in workshops, college visits and other learning opportunities. A field tutor also meets with students weekly at their home school. Students also spend six weeks living on campus during the summer while participating in a variety of classes and activities designed to prepare them for college success.

Upward Bound Math and Science, founded at Northwest in 1990, is a six-week, hands-on summer learning experience for eligible high school students who are interested in careers in a math or science field. The life-enhancing college-prep program helps students explore math, science and technology topics that many of their peers might never experience while exposing them to a university campus and reducing anxieties about college. Northwest’s program draws students from 18 high schools throughout Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, who live in campus residence halls while receiving instruction from skilled college and high school faculty.

Student Support Services at Northwest includes a variety of campus programs dedicated to helping students meet their academic needs and successfully complete their undergraduate degrees. The office offers a variety of resources, including peer mentors who have intricate knowledge of what it takes to be academically successful during college and are available to meet with students in need of assistance.

For more information about the TRIO programs at Northwest, contact Kenkel at 660.562.1861 or pkenkel@nwmissouri.edu.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468