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College bound

Trio programs | 40 students on 3-day campus tour
2010-09-20T00:00:00Z 2010-09-20T00:06:39Z College boundBy ALANA LISTOE Independent Record Helena Independent Record
September 20, 2010 12:00 am  • 

On a sleepy Sunday morning in Helena, nearly 40 high school junior and seniors from Helena, Butte and the surrounding areas filled a chartered bus beginning a three-day tour of college campuses. Most of these students are either first-generation college students or from low income families. For those students, this kind of trip — specifically designed to expose students to higher education opportunities — would be impossible.

The students are part of federal Trio programs Talent Search and Upward Bound, managed though the Department of Education and Montana Tech. The programs are designed to indentify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Brittany Belgarde is a senior at Helena High School who went through a difficult time when her parents got divorced. She says she considered running away to avoid any conflict at home. Her grades weren’t great, and her attitude was worse.

The 17-year-old credits Upward Bound for her motivation, good grades and hope for a college degree.

“It helped me a lot,” Belgarde said. “I would be lost with it. It has helped me get through the struggles in life and kept me positive.”

Although no campus tours were available on Sunday, the students, along with five chaperones, spent the day traveling, talking about college and seeing a few sights along the way. The first was the Tautphus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

It was the first time Belgarde had been to the zoo. And, she says, if these programs didn’t allow her to visit colleges, she wouldn’t have the opportunity. Belgarde says she knows that through the program she gains life experiences as well as college preparation.

CHS junior Kirsten Roeder started in Talent Search in sixth grade and is hoping the coaches in the program help her land some scholarships.

“(Talent Search) has helped me focus on doing homework and keeping my grades up by knowing that I have a support system away from home,” Roeder said.

Michelle Christianson, director of Talent Search for Montana Tech, said the program is intended to give kids a chance to better their lives and show them how to do it.

And the trip makes it all the more real.

Breeinna “Breezi” McDougall is a senior at Butte High School and has been in Talent Search since middle school.

“My family is very low-income, so it’s hard to afford stuff like this,” she said. “(Talent Search) made me realize what college is all about and what I need to get ready.”

The program is helping McDougall prepare for the ACTs and covering the costs.

Today the group will visit the University of Utah and Westminster College.

Read more in Tuesday’s Independent Record.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or


Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. hiddenmuggle
    Report Abuse
    hiddenmuggle - September 20, 2010 9:20 pm
    Miasmom said: "The program as described in this article sounds laudable, but I have to wonder why a program designed in part by Montana Tech is sending these students to schools in Utah, and why a full day of the tour is being spent in Idaho Falls, where the only nearby school is BYU-Idaho? "

    it's a TRiO program, part of the Department of Education and is not unique to Montana Tech. Missoula, Dillon, Kalispell, Bozeman, and Billings, possibly others by now, all have Upward Bound or Talent Search or a combination of TRiO programs. The goal is to get kids to college, not just a particular one. They try to take the upperclassmen to a variety of colleges in the area, even religious ones including Carrol College. In the past they have taken students to colleges in Portland, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
    Idaho Falls also has campuses for both UofI and ISU but if you had read the entire article you would have realized that they spent Sunday in Idaho Falls, a day previously said to not have any campus visits scheduled. They stayed in Idaho Falls as part of the travel time and to take in sights. TRiO is also committed to giving these kids life experiences and part of that is experiencing new places while learning.
  2. Miasmom
    Report Abuse
    Miasmom - September 20, 2010 1:49 pm
    The program as described in this article sounds laudable, but I have to wonder why a program designed in part by Montana Tech is sending these students to schools in Utah, and why a full day of the tour is being spent in Idaho Falls, where the only nearby school is BYU-Idaho?
  3. dreamer
    Report Abuse
    dreamer - September 20, 2010 10:18 am
    What a wonderful program! Hats off the coordinators and students.
  4. curiosityspeaks
    Report Abuse
    curiosityspeaks - September 20, 2010 4:41 am
    I know Brittany quite well and it's heartwarming to see her reaching for a better life and a higher education! Kudos to all of the kids who are proactively searching for a better future and CONGRATULATIONS to Brittany!!! Go girl!

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