Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Technical College student and TRIO participant Kara Polito has received the Vermont Educational Opportunity Program Scholarship. Her nomination came from Sue Polen of the Center for Academic Success. With her narrative, Kara won first place for TRIO Student Support Services and is the first Vermont Tech student to do so. TRIO is a collection of federal programs that aim to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the name implies there were initially three programs under this umbrella, but it has since been expanded. To be eligible for TRIO, a student has to be at least one of the following: low income, a first-generation college student, or have a documented disability. TRIO programs can help with everything from SAT prep, summer camps, college tours, advising, mentoring, providing education supplies, and internship opportunities. About two-thirds of Vermont Tech students are eligible for the TRIO Program.
Polito is a student in the Veterinary Technology Program. She will be graduating this May and has already accepted a position at Purdue University to be a Bovine Ambulatory Technician. Kara has been considered independent since the age of 14, and spent some time in the foster system. Despite these challenges, she emerged as a strong adult, determined to succeed. She recognizes her good fortune and that all too often, other females with similar backgrounds don’t get the opportunity to go to college.
“I got to school and into my first apartment all by myself,” said Polito “It’s not easy to get into this industry, but put your mind to it, try new things and take every opportunity.”
The Vet Tech program offers students hands-on experience with all kinds of animals; mostly cats and dogs, but also reptiles, small mammals and large ungulates.
Polito’s TRIO mentor introduced her to milking at the Vermont Tech farm. She had never worked with cows before but she recognized it instantly as a perfect match. She has been back to milk several times during school breaks.
“I am really grateful for the opportunity. Without TRIO I wouldn’t have gotten into this field. I recommend to everyone that can that they utilize it.”
Vermont currently has 13 Educational Opportunity Programs including a statewide GEAR UP program. Collectively, these federally funded programs serve 7,213 Vermonters and bring in almost $9 million dollars annually to the state. There are six Student Support Service programs spread throughout the state that serve more than 1,300 students. The four Upward Bound programs serve 300 students statewide. The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) hosts the Talent Search program working with almost 1,000 high school students, the statewide GEAR UP program working with more than 3,000 students, and the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), working with more than 1,500 adults.
Vermont Tech said in a press release that TRIO, and other federal education programs are at risk for budget cuts under the new administration. The proposed 10% cut in funding will be detrimental to the program and will result in the loss of 1,500 hours or one full-time staff person at Vermont Tech alone. If you agree that education should be more accessible to disadvantaged persons, please contact your Vermont representatives.
About Vermont Tech – Vermont Technical College is a leading public college with a mission of applied education and student-centeredness. One of the five Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Tech serves students from throughout Vermont, New England, and beyond at its residential campuses in Williston, Norwich and Randolph Center, regional campuses in Brattleboro and Bennington, and at six nursing sites located throughout the state. Vermont Tech features state-of-the-art laboratory experience and a highly personalized classroom and student-life experience. All of our programs utilize a technological educational component, from the simulators used by our nursing program around the state, to manufacturing laboratories in Randolph Center and Williston. Our academic programs encompass a wide range of engineering technology, agricultural, health, and business fields that are vital to producing the knowledgeable workers needed most by employers in the state and in the region. www.vtc.edu.