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First class of TRiO graduates join LTCC Class of 2012

Christina Proctor
LTCC spokeswoman
Photo by Pat Leonard-HeffnerKatherine Camacho, a TRiO program participant, will graduate from Lake Tahoe Community College today.
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Sometimes a little extra help can make all the difference. Katherine “Katie” Camacho was diagnosed with Turner’s syndrome, a disorder that can cause learning disabilities, particularly with spatial concepts or math, in the third grade. It has been an obstacle she has continually had to overcome.

“I’ve always strived to get A’s, but math is my huge struggle,” Camacho admitted.

Despite her struggles, Camacho will walk across the stage today with the rest of her 2012 Lake Tahoe Community College class and pick up her associate degree. Camacho shares a distinction from the majority of this year’s 174 graduates; she is also a member of the first class of “TRiO” students to graduate from LTCC. TRiO, a U.S. Department of Education grant program, targets students whose parents did not earn a degree from a four-year school, low-income students and students with disabilities. The program offers priority registration, additional counseling services, peer mentoring and tutoring, and special workshops. LTCC has successfully applied for and obtained three TRiO grants since spring 2011.

Camacho, who will transfer to Sacramento State University in the fall to work on her bachelor’s in deaf studies, said TRiO provided the help she needed to reach her goals.

“My peer mentor was always there for me,” Camacho said. “TRiO helped with progress reports during the quarter. It’s a great thing to get to see your grades and where you’re at so you know what you need to achieve and where you maybe need to put in some extra work. It was an amazing feeling when I ended up getting a B in statistics. I am very excited to say I have an A.A. degree.”

After attending student orientation this month at Sacramento State, Camacho said she is going to miss LTCC’s personal touch.

“I’m definitely going to miss the campus being so small and knowing where everything is. That campus is so big,” she said with a smile.

Erin Escotto told TRiO staff that she decided to return to school in 2009 when her 13-year-old son asked her for help with his algebra home work and she couldn’t help him.

“It was then I understood how much my son looked up to me for so many things,” Escotto explained. “I needed to set a great example for him and be able to help him with his school work. I needed to show him how important it is to be a college graduate.”

Escotto is graduating this year with honors with three associate’s degrees in criminal justice. A single mom and older returning student, Escotto said TRiO provided her “the wonderful cheerleaders” she needed to make it through school.

“They brought my confidence level from zero to 100,” she said. “Just the time they gave me was priceless. The referrals for all the programs at the campus were a life-saver.”

Escotto and Camacho are recipients of the TRiO Student Support Services grant that is currently serving 140 students. The college also has people in place at South Tahoe Middle School and South Tahoe High School administering the TRiO Educational Talent Search grant that targets low-income and/or potential first-generation college students and helps prepare and motivate them to complete middle school and high school and go on to college. LTCC received word in May that it would also receive the TRiO Upward Bound grant, which targets similar high school students and helps them prepare for college by providing academic instruction in mathematics, laboratory sciences, composition, literature and foreign languages. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for one of these TRiO programs, please contact us for more information: Lake Tahoe Community College 541-4660, ext. 741, South Tahoe Middle School at 541-6404 ext.237, or South Tahoe High School at 541-4111, ext. 400.


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