Kolby Harper, a senior Spanish and political science double-major from Gurdon, Ark., has been named to the TRIO Hall of Fame by Ouachita Baptist University’s Academic Enrichment Center (AEC). Harper will represent OBU’s AEC at the Arkansas TRIO day celebration ceremonies Feb. 28 at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock.
“Each year the OBU TRIO programs select a participant to represent their program on the state level,” explained Frances Nelson, director of OBU’s Academic Enrichment Center and Student Support Services (SSS). “The staff of the Academic Enrichment Center are so very proud of Kolby and feel she will represent us well at the state’s TRIO day celebration.”
In addition to being honored at the ceremony, all participants at the state level will be featured in a bound book sent to government officials in Washington, D.C.
Harper was introduced to the TRIO programs by participating in the Educational Talent Search program at OBU, a program that provides academic, career and financial counseling to young people in grades 6-12. The goal of the program is to increase the number of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who complete high school and continue to an institution of higher education.
However, it was the Upward Bound program that brought Harper to the campus of Ouachita Baptist University and showed her ways in which she would be able to excel financially and academically. She considers Upward Bound the first “stepping stone” to a program that would change her life.
Harper decided to become a program assistant in the Upward Bound program, and has continued to serve in that role every summer she has been in college.
“The experience of being with the students has been life-rewarding,” Harper said. “I am able to talk with students that are from the same background that I have, and I can show them that yes, there is a way for one to continue an education.”
Harper has been successful in the TRIO Program while staying involved on Ouachita’s campus. She is a member of Tri Chi women’s social club as well as the Ouachita Student Foundation in which she is the co-chair of its fundraising and financing committee. Harper is also a member of the Southern BanCorp Student Advisory Board and has been named to OBU’s Dean’s List.
Along with being named this year’s Hall of Fame recipient, Harper was also a recipient of the prestigious Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, which enables her to travel to Argentina to study Spanish with the Rotary program. After her stay in Argentina this summer, Kolby plans to attend law school.
“I truly believe that if it wasn’t for the TRIO program I would not be anywhere near as successful as I am now,” Harper said. “The skills and knowledge that I acquired from the program have led me to attend a private university and pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer. I am glad that TRIO programs are here to give many of those in need a much deserved and desired chance.”
The AEC (SSS) is a federally funded TRIO program that helps students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education. The AEC offers free peer tutoring, academic and personal counseling, financial aid assistance, career and graduate school counseling, and tickets to cultural events on campus. Supplemental grant aid is available to qualifying first and second year students.
by Megan Lindsey