First-generation college students excel with ‘TRiO’ program

Kaylin Shelley and Samara Rangel, 2016 graduates and first-generation college students, excel with the TRiO program, Cedar City, Utah, May 26, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News, Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Since the seventh grade, Cedar City natives Kaylin Shelley and Samara Rangel have had leadership, service and professional development opportunities available to them through the federal “TRiO” program hosted by Southern Utah University. Upon graduating this year from Canyon View High School, these all-star students had already received their associate degrees through Southern Utah University’s Success Academy, but they’re not done yet.

Kaylin Shelley and Samara Rangel, 2016 Graduates and First-Generation College Students Excel with TRIO Program, May 26, 2016, Cedar City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News, Cedar City News
Kaylin Shelley and Samara Rangel, 2016 graduates and first-generation college students, excel with the TRiO program, Cedar City, Utah, May 26, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News, Cedar City News

Shelley and Rangel are members of the university’s TRiO “Educational Talent Search” program through Canyon View, a program that recruits students from low-income, first-generation families and helps build a desire and passion for academics and higher education.

Together, the two have been offered more than $300,000 in educational funding through several universities and independent scholarship programs, and both have decided to continue their studies at Southern Utah University. Shelley and Rangel are on an upward trajectory toward academic achievement and accomplishment.

Through this program, Rangel and Shelley were encouraged to apply for a variety of scholarships, one of which was the Daniels Scholarship, a Denver-based fund that supplies four-year scholarships at any accredited nonprofit college or university in the United States. Among 2,200 applicants, Shelley and Rangel are two recipients of this full-ride scholarship.

Encouraged to excel at their studies by mentors from the university and Canyon View, Shelley and Rangel exemplify the American dream of higher education regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstances.

“The biggest part of the program is getting young students excited about education and the possibility that yes, they can succeed in college, even if mom and dad never went,” said Tauna Brandt, TRiO Educational Talent Search adviser at Southern Utah University,

Shelley is an all-star volunteer and aspiring humanitarian. Her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and psychology from Southern Utah University and serve individuals and communities worldwide. At an early age, she realized the need to build her resume and develop writing, speaking and leadership skills. Getting involved with the Educational Talent Search program was life changing for her, a decision for which she will always be grateful, she said.

“The TRiO Program and ETS had me thinking about college applications, soft-skill development and resume building from an early age,” Shelley said. “The people involved took me on college tours, which I would have never done on my own. They had such an influence on the choices I’ve made and my purpose in life.”

For Rangel, as a psychology major with a possible Spanish minor pursuing the international relations certificate, she has found the perfect combination of her passions in learning and life. She is already involved with the psychology department at Southern Utah University and said she joyously anticipates her continued learning this fall. Rangel said she credits her mom as the biggest influence in her life and the reason behind her success and determination.

“When I was younger, my mom would ask me every day ‘Did you learn something?’ and ‘Did you help someone?’” Rangel said. “What started out as a to-do list became my lifestyle. This motto of learning and helping was embedded in my life, and the TRiO program only helped it grow and reinforce my goals for higher education.”

Housed by Southern Utah University and promoted in middle and high schools in the area, the federal TRiO program includes five outreaches stationed across the nation aimed at motivating and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO is an educational opportunity outreach program targeted to serve and assist students on their academic journey from middle school to post-baccalaureate opportunities and careers.

The Educational Talent Search program is one such outreach program that recruits students from Iron, Beaver and Kane counties in Southern Utah, helping them develop study skills, fill out college and scholarship applications and plan for future career paths.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Bob June 9, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    recruits students from low-income, first-generation families”” ‘first-generation’ implying these are immigrants or what?

    A full ride to any college and they chose SUU? lol

    And please god no more psych majors. The world has enough, believe it…

  • Bob June 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    nursing is all good, but why not aim high and go for a medical or engineering degree. we need more women in those areas

  • Wolverine June 10, 2016 at 8:31 am

    I was so happy to see this article focusing on the success and bright future of these two lovely young ladies. I had the pleasure of meeting Samara this year and seeing her and interacting with her on a weekly basis, she is a delightful, outgoing, smart and accomplished young lady. She’s someone I’d hire in a moment ahead of most Adults I’ve met in my lifetime.
    For anyone to suggest that their (Kaylin and Samara) choice of SUU (Which is a top notch high quality college) or their choice of their field of study, as being a poor choice, is to display your lack of education and understanding about that institution and your knowledge of these two wonderful young ladies. Being a first generation College student, means that you have an opportunity to accomplish something that no one in your family has done before. Is it a crime to come from a humble and working class background? I hardly think so. Perhaps they are close to their families and would like to remain in the same area to be near them. Engineers? Sure we need them, but that doesn’t mean that the engineering field is of any interest to these two young ladies. You cannot force a field of study on someone. Psychology comes into play in many areas, don’t judge unless you know them personally and what their end goals are. It’s a field that can be combined with many other careers and it’s a great place to start. Who knows, they may change their mind, and change their focus, I know I did.

    I’m super proud of these girls for being “Adults” and taking the steps to be successful while their counterparts are concentrating on their social lives, have their faces buried in their phones, social media, selfies and games. At least these ladies have a goal in mind beyond High School graduation and the after party. I’ve been less than impressed with many graduating High School students and their ability to even speak to an adult in full sentences while maintaining eye contact. There’s no way most of them are even ready to understand the importance of college or any post secondary education options and be successful and focused enough to make it through one year let alone gain a degree.

    I have complete confidence that these two young ladies will be successful in their college goals and will be highly sought after when they’re ready to start their careers. Great job ladies!

    Haters gonna hate, no matter where you go to school and what you study in.

    • Bob June 11, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      uh, who’s hating? I’m proud of any of kids in cedar that don’t get hooked into the local cedar drug culture and just float around and get in trouble with the law. maybe someday that town will take out the trash

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.