October 22, 2021
By Trinity Thorpe-Lubneuski
I was 15, in Upward Bound, and attending the COE National Student Leadership Congress in DC. My first time on Capitol Hill, and I met COE leaders and learned about advocacy from others who were doing this daily. It was inspiring!
That’s where I really started to develop an interest in research and policy. When I was in college at Pepperdine University, COE asked me to share my story in a legislative briefing. [TRIO programs] were up for reauthorization, seeking additional funding, and there were some proposed budget cuts. I was able to travel from California to Washington, DC to speak.
A staffer for Senator Mike Enzi, from my home state of Wyoming, invited me back to provide testimony in a Senate hearing. I was 20 or 21 and testified before some Senate celebrities, including Senator [Hillary] Clinton. This experience solidified my desire to go, advocate and be a part of COE’s force for good and change.
Now, established in my career, I benefit from COE’s alumni network. I’ve been able to reach out and get to know many others, especially fellow National TRIO Achievers. I can connect with this amazing group of people across different industries and walks of life, learn from them, utilize that network, and help be a force for good.
[To commemorate the 40th anniversary would you consider making a special contribution of $40 to COE? Your financial support this year and over the years guarantees that the Council will have the resources and flexibility to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for our most underserved students.]
As a student in the Upward Bound Math/Science Initiative program at the University of Wyoming, I was assigned a specific research project and had to go to the library and learn skills about identifying peer-reviewed research.
Those skills and that interest in positioning data to create narratives led me to where I am today. I was an underperformer when I first entered TRIO. I was able to get caught up on a lot of the things I had missed out on earlier in my life. The tutoring was extraordinarily essential to that success.
In college it was amazing to put those skills to work. I became a data analyst and ended up leading teams of researchers and data analysts. It’s crazy to think how fearful I was of math at one point.
Had COE and TRIO not entered my life and been such a positive force for me and an encouragement, I would not have gone to college. That’s the breadth and scope of impact that COE can have on communities and people. They’re transforming lives and making a significant impact on ending generational poverty.
COE keeps the TRIO programs going and acts as the advocate to make sure that those programs are funded. COE acts as the organizing power behind these otherwise relatively disparate groups of people across the country who are on the mission to do the same thing. It allows them to work with each other to learn best practices and understand more about the populations that they’re trying to reach and that it’s not always a one-size-fits-all approach.
There’s always someone there from COE who can help put the work in context on a national scale. They help guide and discuss direction or identify problems or issues that need to then be taken up from an advocacy perspective.
Comcast is working with COE on an initiative called “Build Your Own Future with STEAM” that will change the demographics in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) careers. It raises awareness of the importance of STEAM careers and the steps that students — who have had no direction — need to take to get to those careers. It pairs those students with people who look like them and are already in those careers.
Trinity Thorpe-Lubneuski is Executive Director, Strategy & Policy, Internet Essentials, at the Comcast Corporation.