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.