SSS Students Receive Colin Smith-Levin Achievement Awards

July 17, 2012 - Dorene DiNaro

The UNM Student Support Services-TRiO Program recently awarded thirteen SSS students the Collin Smith-Levin Achievement award which provides federal grant aid for students.

 The awardees are all Pell grant recipients who are enrolled as full-time students at UNM including:  Mayra Alvarado, Tatiana Burkes, Gabriel Chacon, Tracy Chacon, Cuong Dinh, Natalie Hernandez, Amy Leyva, Oscar Munoz, John Pham, Tiffany Pineda, Alison Rodriguez, Ellen Scott and Greg Soliz.

 “All of these students have shown great commitment to their education and the SSS program,” says Dawn BlueSky-Hill, program specialist with the SSS.

 “SSS-TRiO has been my family away from home, my support to lean on when things get hard, and my words of wisdom in times when I need advice,” says Gabriel Chacon, one of the award recipients.

 “A total of $10,000 was awarded at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year and this award enables SSS participants to continue their education at UNM while keeping loans at a minimum,” BlueSky-Hill says. 

 “The award helps because when I am less stressed about financial bills I am at peace, and I am able to better concentrate on the tasks at hand such as homework and quizzes from the classes I have, which can be stressful in themselves,” Chacon says.

 Mayra Alvardo plans to use the award to pay for tuition, class fees, textbooks and other educational expenses.  “I am the first in my family to attend college, and making the transition from high school to college a difficult task because my parents have limited knowledge of college,” she says.

 UNM Student Support Services - TRIO was established by the US Department of Education in 1965 to provide supportive services for individuals from first-generation backgrounds to encourage students to earn their bachelor’s degree.  SSS is designed to motivate and support students in pursuit of their college degree with services including academic advisement, tutoring/mentoring, and cultural activities.  

 For more information on the program, please contact BlueSky-Hill at 277-3230 or visit