For the past six years Helena native Cory Chenoweth has worked with disadvantaged students in Helena to help them go to college.
They are either the first generation in their family to be earning a bachelor’s degree or are low-income.
Lia Ariizumi, a 19-year-old Helenan attending the University of California, San Diego, is one of them.
She worked with Chenoweth from 8th grade on, setting academic and personal goals and meeting with him weekly.
Chenoweth helped her with everything from finding the college she wanted, to applying for scholarships, filling out financial aid forms, taking entrance tests and completing college applications.
“It was very, very helpful,” she says. “I’m so appreciative I had Cory with me. I would not have gotten as far in my academic career without Cory. He’s been my rock.”
Catching up with Chenoweth these days, isn’t easy.
Although some educators are off from school right now, summer is his busiest time of the year.
He’s been commuting back and forth to Butte, where he has a group of 15 Upward Bound high school students doing an intensive, six-week summer academy at the Montana Tech campus.
The students are living on campus and taking science, computer, math, foreign language and technical writing classes and also doing community service projects.
In the next few days, they finish their classes, and he’ll take them on a trip to Salt Lake City to visit college campuses.
Touring campuses is a key component of the TRIO Upward Bound program he works for.
TRIO is the federally funded education umbrella program, founded in 1965, that identifies and provides services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
TRIO has grown to include eight different programs to assist disadvantaged students. Chenoweth also works with its Talent Search program that provides academic, career, and financial counseling.
The Upward Bound campus visits give students a feel for what it would be like to be a student there, says Chenoweth.
There are a lot of things Chenoweth loves about his job, particularly “the instant gratification I get of seeing the fruits of my labor.”
“Everyday is totally different than the day before. It’s not monotonous.”
The Helena Education Foundation honored him as a Distinguished Educator the past two years.
Chenoweth, 39, is also a founder of a scholarship program, a husband and father of two small children, a Helena Youth Soccer and Little League coach and vice-president of Helena Gold Rush Lions.
“I love the idea of giving back to the community that did such a great job of raising me,” he says.