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Student Support Services

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 Student Support Services is a federally funded project whose mission is to “increase the retention and graduation rates of low-income, first generation students and students with disabilities by providing tutoring, academic counseling, study skills workshops, mentoring and monitoring student progress,” but for me, they provided so much more.

Being from Los Angeles, I knew very few people and SSS gave me the opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships with other students. They became a support system, a family away from home.

When I first arrived at CSU-Pueblo, I met with financial aid counselor, at the time, Ofelia Morales. After sharing with her my concerns about needing some academic counseling and possibly tutoring for biology, she informed me about the assistance SSS provides. I found out I qualified for the program and filled out the paperwork.  

Little did I know, that SSS was going to provide so much more than a lap top when my lap top crashed -allowing me to finish my thirty page senior project at home or that I would be invited to a lot of holiday potlucks-allowing me to pack on the freshmen 15.  Often, they would call to inform me that I was the recipient of a scholarship-it was always a financial relief.

Every year, Vic Tenorio, Educational Development Specialist, walked me through my financial aid application, step-by-step.  He always said, “I’m very proud of you, mija.”

The director knows what it’s like to be to be a first generation student and the challenges you must overcome to attain a higher education.

 “I started as a program associate and worked my way up to director. If I know I helped one student today, I know I did my job,” Brenda Trujillo-Aranda said.

Henry Ornelas, Project Specialist, always motivated me to work hard and attempt to achieve perfection but he also reminded me to, “give myself some credit and to learn to embrace B’s as grades” and not just A’s.  Watching him grow academically, earning a Master’s Degree, inspired me to further my education. He didn’t realize it, but he was also serving as a role model and mentor for the participants.

I’d like to thank SSS for taking me under their wing and providing me with all the tools I needed to reach my ultimate goal, (also their personal goal)… graduation.

Particularly, I’d like to express gratitude to Henry for helping me understand photosynthesis. To all four of my math tutors Seferino Gurule, Jeremiah Embrey, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Vigil-I couldn’t have done it without you.  Thanks for lifting my spirits when I was ready to give up.

Together, they’ve all proved the famous Ashanti proverb is true. “It takes a village to raise a child.” For the laughs and tears we shared, the coffee and your support, I’d like to thank the entire staff at SSS. I owe a great deal of my success to you. “¡Sí, se puede!” (Yes, you can!)

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