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San Diego State University

Student Ability Success Center

TRiO Newsletter Fall 2015 


What motivates you?  Is it money?  Happiness?  Your competitive spirit?  For each of us, it is a very personal issue.  Upon entering college, perhaps your motivation was only to please your parents.  Maybe it changed throughout the years.  In order to find motivation, sometimes you need to better understand and define the goal.  Are you in college just because it is an expectation or because it will allow you to achieve your goal of becoming a doctor?  It’s certainly okay to set smaller goals as well:  passing the chemistry exam will allow you to move on towards that final goal. 


A Key Moment  

When I was fifteen, all I wanted to do is play guitar.  Chemistry and physics seemed less relevant than learning the guitar solo to “Stairway to Heaven.”  As a result, my grades were pretty horrible my sophomore year.  My lack of motivation was the issue.  Yes, it is hard to see at that age how such academic knowledge has any real world application or relevance.  I also took advantage of the fact that my parents were really laid back.  When I told my mother about my failing grade in Geometry, she replied, “Oh, well…I guess you’re not going to be a mathematician.”  

It was at the beginning of my junior year that everyone started talking about college.  I had to ask myself, was I going to college?  My grades were certainly not going to impress any admissions officer.  I recall meeting with my guidance counselor who shook his head and said, “Have you thought about vocational training?”  That was enough to light a fire.  I was mad.  How dare he dictate my future!  I would show him.  I would do well the next year just for spite! 

It seemed to work.  Once I actually applied myself and became involved, my GPA went up quickly.  I was taking honors courses and getting A’s instead of C’s and F’s.  After attending a small liberal arts college near my hometown of Marshall, Michigan (now famous for microbrew beer) for a year, I transferred to Tulane University in New Orleans where I earned a degree in English.  Looking back, if I hadn’t found that motivation at a key moment in my life, I might be asking, “Do you want to supersize your order for fifty cents more?” 

--Steven Haslem


Motivation From Within


One thing that helps me to be more motivated is to have deadlines. I usually have a few projects at school, internship, and work.  When I complete each project and achieve a result, it motivates me to do more and be successful. It is important to motivate yourself because the only person who can change you is you. It is essential we focus on ourselves and our goals, whether it educational, professional, or personal goals. It is important to be organized and prioritize your goals for each task. Motivation is the essential power to become more successful in your life.

The challenges I have been through in my life motivate me to reach the goals I have set for myself and family. Every morning, I wake up to make my life better in different ways, depending on the circumstances I face each day. My family, friends, and co-workers motivate me each day to be the best person that I can be. I have a remarkable support system all around me. In addition, I am a very spiritual person because no matter what happens in life, there is always hope. Also, we have to remember to help ourselves before helping anyone because if you cannot take care of yourself then how can you help anyone else?

—Delveen Tahir


Doing Your Best


Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom,” wrote, “under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next.” As a student, you should keep these words in mind. This will be especially true in September when school has just started and your main responsibility is to read your textbooks and gear up for the semester projects. Your professors’ expectations will probably be fairly high, but you will feel they are obtainable.

However, come November, when you have two term papers due, three exams before the Thanksgiving break, and six chapters to read before finals, you will probably realize that your professors’ expectations are not realistic, but you still need to do your best. Even though you may feel that at certain times there are not enough hours in a day, just do your best. Simply put, the wisdom of Ruiz’s words is that if you do your best you will be kinder to yourself and avoid feelings of guilt, blame, or regret that is associated with not giving your best effort.

The TRiO program is here to help you do your best and to help you deal with the stress of those times when you need to make an extra effort. Anyone on the TRiO team can provide academic coaching and tips to help you become a better student or to help you recognize and achieve your best effort. Teresa is here to help you with time management and prioritizing your school work. Finally, Steve and Joe can provide writing assistance for those RWS assignments and term papers.

--Teresa Spoulos


Learning How to Fly, Bumble Bee Style


I believe it was Confucius who wrote “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.  Today I have come to personally understand Confucius.  After welcoming my TRiO: Student Support Services students to their Fall 2014 Semester, I can honestly say that TRiO is my motivation.  TRiO motivates me because I can see the benefits that the program has on it’s participants.  As an alumnus of TRiO, having participated in Educational Talent Search while high school and Student Support Services while in undergrad at Morehouse College, I’ve witnessed firsthand the advantages that being a product of TRiO has to offer.

Originated through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and the Higher Education Act of 1965, TRiO became the official name for the three educational opportunity programs (Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, and Student Support Services) in 1968 after Student Support Services was created. With prominent alumni like, Oprah Winfrey (media proprietor, talk show host, actress producer and philanthropist), John Quinones (ABC News correspondent, and currently the host of Primetime: What Would You Do), Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz (Mechanical Engineer, physicist, and former NASA astronaut), and Patrick Ewing (National Basketball Association Hall of Famer), to name a few; TRiO has been continuously changing lives since it’s birth.  Accepting students who are low income, first generation, disabled, and/or foster youth, and allowing them to have an opportunity to become better than their upbringings; TRiO continues to meet expectations. 

Before I end my segment, I would like to leave you with something to think about; “aerodynamically, the bumblebee isn’t supposed to fly; however it’s a good thing that no one has told this to the bumblebee”.  I see TRiO participants as the bumblebee; we fly after our goals and dreams, not knowing that because of our history and circumstances (some previous) we aren’t supposed to achieve them; however we always do!

P.S. I look forward to adding your names to the list of prominent TRiO alumni, and to smile as I tell people that I was a part of your early development.

--Demitrius Jones