our stories




In 1981, Irene Manley, along with her parents, embarked on a journey from the Philippines to the United States, driven by dreams of a brighter future. Within the fabric of their migration story lies Irene’s unwavering commitment to education. Recent years found Irene, a proud TRIO alumna, at a crossroads during her college journey. Balancing academic pursuits with the harsh reality of her father battling two cancers, Irene’s resilience shone through. TRIO became more than a support system; it became her lifeline. Guided by her father’s advice — “don’t take things for granted” — Irene graduated with double honors in 2019, a testament to her tenacity and the transformative power of TRIO.


Chanthan Kuong’s journey weaves through the rich tapestry of her Cambodian heritage. Born to a refugee father, Chanthan’s parents instilled the importance of education in her upbringing. However, life took unexpected turns, including a divorce and a delayed college entry. In this maze of challenges, TRIO emerged as a guiding light. Through the tumultuous years, TRIO not only provided academic support but also became a source of empowerment. Today, on the cusp of completing a master’s degree, Chanthan reflects on her journey as a first-generation graduate, giving credit to TRIO for not just navigating her through academia but also fostering strength in the face of adversity.


Brianna Johnson’s narrative is one of redemption and educational resilience. Raised against the backdrop of personal struggles and the challenges of dropping out of high school, Brianna found her turning point at Grays Harbor College. TRIO, the silent force behind her triumphs, provided more than just academic assistance; it offered a sense of belonging. Navigating the complexities of academia, Brianna not only completed her associate degree with a stellar 3.9 GPA but also emerged as a testament to the transformative power of second chances, with TRIO acting as her compass through the maze of educational resurgence.


Bonnie Davidson’s story unfolds against the backdrop of military life, personal challenges, and the resilience found in the face of adversity. As a non-traditional student navigating divorce, Bonnie’s journey became intertwined with the unwavering support of the TRIO program. Beyond academic guidance, TRIO became her confidante, helping her weather life’s storms. Today, standing on the precipice of a master’s degree, Bonnie reflects on the instrumental role TRIO played in her journey, shaping her not just as a graduate but as a resilient individual ready to inspire others with her unique story of triumph over trials.


Jady Alonso Chavez’s narrative unfolds from the heart of a Hispanic background, where the echoes of a single mother’s struggles and the challenges of growing up in shelters created the backdrop of her journey. A decision to pursue college post-divorce marked a turning point, and TRIO became the anchor in her academic endeavors. Beyond language barriers and repeated classes, TRIO provided unwavering support. Graduating with double honors in 2019, Jady’s story symbolizes the triumph of determination over adversity, with TRIO serving as the driving force behind her success, showcasing the profound impact of mentorship and support in the face of educational challenges.


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