This archived article was written by: Allie Mangum
Helping individuals from high school through retirement get into a college is the Educational Opportunity Center’s goal. CEU’s Shawnee Barnes is the local coordinator of this national TRIO program.
EOC is a member of the TRIO family of programs created in 1965 under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson and is one of the many programs that serves this population. It focuses on recruiting nontraditional students that are low-income or first generation, meaning neither parent graduated from college. Often, they do not know where to start or think that it is possible for them to attend school; Barnes helps them overcome these obstacles. Once being a non-traditional student herself, she is an asset to this organization. At the age of 25, she was a single mom attending a university for the first time. “I remember being so scared.”
Barnes recruits for Carbon and Emery counties. “This is good for the high unemployment rate in our community.” While so many [people] are out of jobs, they can attend college and obtain a degree or learn skills that will benefit them. She recruits for any post-secondary school in the nation, not just CEU.
Barnes helps students fill out financial aid applications, admission forms, and explore career options. A placement test is recommended in order to place the student in the appropriate class level. She also helps many obtain their GEDs. Some of her success stories include two local inmates that she visited in jail and assisted in “getting them started in college.”
To keep the federal grant, the Utah EOC unit must serve 1,000 students within their fiscal year. Barnes personal goal is 250 students; currently she has about 180. They have easily met the unit goal, but she would like to recruit more students to keep this service available.
Barnes operates on a walk-in basis, so there is no need to make an appointment. Her office is located in the Student Center on the second floor in room #113. This program is not just for non-traditional students. Anybody who needs help filling out that dreaded Free Application For Federal Student Aid Application come “right on in, ” she said.
Barnes grew up in Emery County. She graduated from the University of Utah with two bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology. She also teaches Criminal Justice, Jazz, and Modern Dance classes at CEU. Being a first generation student herself, she understands that the community here often does not know the resources available to them. She did it and knows “it’s possible for others!”
To learn more about this program and celebrate TRIO Day, come to the Jennifer Leavitt Building on February 23 from 11:00 to 1:00 for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate and enjoy refreshments.