In Our November, 2017 Issue:

Gifts and meditations: Takeaways from the TRIO Leadership Summit

by

I never would have thought observ­ing a rock could be so peace­ful. That was just one insight await­ing me at the TRIO Lead­er­ship Sum­mit on Oct. 20 on the St. Paul cam­pus. As a stu­dent in the TRIO pro­gram, I had attended other TRIO events in the past, like the Adult Col­lege Stu­dent Lead­er­ship Sym­po­sium. So I thought I had an idea what to be expect from the event. But sur­prises — and prizes — awaited me.

When I arrived on the third floor of the Library and Learn­ing Cen­ter, the first thing that caught my atten­tion were the lovely prizes, neatly pack­aged and lined up on a table. I scouted the gift bas­kets to see which one was the most appeal­ing to me. At that time, I wasn’t sure how to win or receive the prize, but I was sure I would find out.

As I walked into the wel­com­ing ses­sion, I didn’t expect so many TRIO stu­dents from Min­neapo­lis Com­mu­nity and Tech­ni­cal Col­lege (MCTC) to be in atten­dance. I sat at a table with my fel­low Metro State stu­dents and lis­tened to wel­com­ing speeches from Metro State Pres­i­dent Ginny Arthur and MCTC Pres­i­dent Sharon Pierce. Both pres­i­dents had noth­ing but pos­i­tive things to say about TRIO, a fed­eral pro­gram that serves stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged backgrounds.

We tran­si­tioned to an ice breaker activ­ity: human bingo. I’m not a com­pet­i­tive per­son when it comes to bingo, but every­one around me was fired up. They ran scream­ing across the room to see if any­one fit into any of the bingo card cat­e­gories. It got to the point where we didn’t intro­duce our­selves to each other any­more, instead we just swapped bingo cards and marked one of the cat­e­gories that we fit in. As the ice breaker activ­ity came to end, the major­ity if not all the stu­dents man­aged to get a black­out on their bingo cards and redeem their raf­fle tick­ets for the prize drawing.

Then I went to a med­i­ta­tion work­shop for the first ses­sion of the day. The set­ting was some­thing that you would see in a coun­sel­ing office, with chairs arranged in a cir­cle. We were given a small rock and told to focus on it. This was sur­pris­ingly relax­ing. The speak­ers talked about many aspects of med­i­ta­tion. One thing that has stuck in my mind is their advice to live in the present moment. I am never focused on the present moment. I always have lots of things pro­cess­ing in my mind— issues with col­lege, classes, cul­ture, cur­rent events— even as I multi-​task. I def­i­nitely felt this was some­thing that I could improve on.

A panel of trans­fer stu­dents from com­mu­nity col­leges was next on the agenda. This was designed more for the MCTC stu­dents because they might want to trans­fer to a four-​year uni­ver­sity soon. They got the chance to ask ques­tions of stu­dents who had been in their same sit­u­a­tion in the past. I appre­ci­ated that each stu­dents had their own unique back­ground and rea­son for con­tin­u­ing their edu­ca­tion and trans­fer­ring to a four-​year university.

As the lead­er­ship sum­mit came to an end, prizes were given out through a ran­dom draw­ing of raf­fle tick­ets. Unfor­tu­nately, I didn’t win the prize that I wanted. But I felt sat­is­fied. I met so many other inspir­ing TRIO stu­dents, from Metro State and MCTC. I value how the med­i­ta­tion work­shop made me mind­ful of liv­ing in the moment. And, as it ends up, the true prize of the TRIO Lead­er­ship Sum­mit wasn’t a gift bag; it was the social engage­ment in the TRIO com­mu­nity. That’s why I will con­tinue to show my sup­port for and par­tic­i­pate in TRIO.