Upward Bound Math-Science, one of FIU’s TRIO programs, hosted more than 350 guests on February 23 to commemorate the annual achievements of fellow Federal TRIO programs in the South Florida community.
Guests from 6 years to 75 years of age joined the celebration which featured several interactive break-out sessions, scholarship awards, an engaging Chat & Chew lunch and speeches from special guests.
Dr. Anthony Desantis, assistant vice president of Student Affairs at Biscayne Bay kicked off the celebration with a thank you to those who had traveled from as far south as Homestead to as far north as Palm Beach for attending the annual event. Dr. E. George Simms arrived to personally award recipients the Simms Scholarship for first-generation students who excel in undergraduate research. Students from Upward Bound Math-Science at the Frost Museum of Science presented a video project, which they have been working on in tandem with professional film makers to shed light on the growing environmental issues clouding South Florida’s future. Daniel Horton-Diaz, district chief of staff to Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL -26), spoke to attendees about his personal experiences with homelessness and food insecurity as a young child.
Break-out sessions were strategically crafted to fit the audience and engage attendees in a meaningful and memorable way. Adults and parents in attendance participated in the Educational Opportunity Center workshop to learn fresh ways to expand on their education and career skills. High school juniors and seniors were invited to take part in a speed networking session to better hone their networking skills and learn to create their own elevator pitch for their passions and expertise. High school freshmen and sophomores participated in a leadership development workshop, which included exercises in problem solving, communication and teamwork. Middle school students were whisked off to the Biscayne Bay shoreline for a hands-on demonstration of marine life conservation and research. Student Support Services and McNair scholars partook in a leadership development session which focused on learning to be a successful leader and impact others with influence.
National trainer and public speaker Kemy Joseph wowed guests with freestyle rap skills and charisma. The lunchtime Chat & Chew took creative liberties and called on attendees to think outside the box when it comes to the reigns placed on Pell grant-eligible students in the world of academics. Mr. Joseph challenged everyone to dig deep into their personal values and histories and take hold of why they want to be successful, before providing the hows of how to achieve. Students were extremely engaged in the conversation and volunteered their own personal backstories to explain why they choose success and academics to overcome community obstacles.
The celebration served as an opportunity to empower the young, bright minds of South Florida who all too often struggle with issues like food insecurity, homelessness and low income. With TRIO programs like Upward Bound Math-Science, Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers, and the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, FIU is helping to bridge the gap between communities in need and the opportunities they deserve.
This event was organized by the 2019 South Florida TRIO Day Committee: Shadrack Joseph, director, UBMS, FIU; Stephanie Wong, director, TRIO EOC Miami; Aida Verela, enrollment specialist and academic advisor, SSS, Miami Dade College Homestead; Rowina Petion, director, SSS, Palm Beach State College; Mauricia, director, UBMS Frost Science Museum; Sofany Montoya, coordinator, UBMS Frost Science Museum; Alex Rodriguez, specialist, UBMS, FIU