Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  February 2020  >  February 24, 2020  >  Students Share Stories, Build Connections
Students Share Stories, Build Connections

Kristina DavisIt’s Saturday morning at the Skutt Student Center, and students are sharing their stories. Stories of hardship, struggle and perseverance. Stories of who they are today.

Topics are heavy, harrowing: deaths in the family, parents immigrating to America, past feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

But it's the little details that seem to offer catharsis.

Like when Kristina Davis, a sophomore psychology major, talks about how, when she was growing up, her mother had to work such long hours that Kristina didn't get to spend much time with her.

Kelly NguyenKelly Nguyen, a junior exercise science major, relates so deeply to this detail she bursts into tears. The students embrace.

"It's nice to know that someone understands you," Davis says.

"You can't know what people are going through,” Nguyen says, “not until you actually talk to them.”

Actually TALKING to each other — that's the point of TRiO Stories, in which student storytellers share their experiences with their peers. These storytelling sessions serve to build empathy and challenge stereotypes and prejudice.

The sessions are part of National TRiO Day, held annually in February since 1986. It’s a celebration of the federally funded programs designed to provide free services for people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Creighton's TRiO programs assist precollege and college students, as well as adult learners. More than 100 precollege students participate in educational activities with goals of creating conversation around identities and overcoming barriers.

The TRiO-funded Student Support Services helps more than 160 Creighton students who have financial needs or are the first in their families to go to college. The program aims to surround each student with a network of support — academic, cultural and emotional.

These are the Creighton students sharing their stories Saturday morning.

"It's not very often in our lives," says Student Support Services director Krystal Boose, BA'08, "that we can sit down and be like, ‘So, tell me what it's like to have parents who were immigrants’ or ‘Tell me what it was like to experience medical trauma.’ This is the time and space to do that."

Efren GarciaOne of the most confident storytellers at the TRiO Stories event is Efren Garcia, a Mexican-American first-generation student and senior majoring in psychology with plans to become a physician.

Garcia talks about everything. He talks about his parents coming to America and the sacrifices they've made for him. He talks about the culture shock of coming from South Omaha to Creighton, where he's often been the only person of color in the room. He threads plenty of levity throughout his story, too, telling a few jokes and taking a charmingly nerdy detour to express his love for anime.

Garcia also talks about what TRiO Student Support Services has meant to his Creighton experience.

"Coming to Creighton, I felt like a fish out of water," he says. “And Student Support Services ended up being a really great support system, with mentors and coaches and friends who have had a very big impact on who I am now. One thing I've learned is that it's OK to open up and be vulnerable."

Upon finishing his story, Garcia looks to his fellow students and laughs.

"Sorry, I know I just talked for a long time. Thank you for listening."

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