Little did Carol B. Hicks know that joining TRIO Upward Bound in 1969 as a high school student would have such a monumental effect on her life. From New York to New Mexico, Hicks has dedicated 40 years of her career to working with TRIO programs. New Mexico State University’s TRIO Student Support Services director, Hicks was honored recently for the achievement.
“When I joined TRIO Upward Bound in Rochester, New York, little did I know that I was being prepared for a life journey with TRIO,” Hicks said. “As a TRIO student, I remember the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to visit colleges and participate in the Junior Olympics and College Bowls. Most of all, I remember the life lessons, the importance of taking advantage of opportunities, attending to deadlines, studying self-efficacy, inducing confidence and genuine care. My TRIO journey is my life’s journey, and I have had a fantastic journey.”
In recognition of her four decades of work, Hicks was celebrated at the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs conference in November in Albuquerque and by the New Mexico TRIO Association in April.
“Carol has been an instrumental advocate for student success on the New Mexico State campus,” said Tony Marin, assistant vice president of student affairs. “More specifically, her dedication to ensuring the first-generation, low-income and students with disabilities are afforded access to and success in ascertaining a college education is in her DNA.
“During her decade of service to Aggies, Carol has helped hundreds of students access, persist and graduate with a baccalaureate degree from New Mexico State,” Marin said. “I am grateful for the 40 years of service to the TRIO Programs and the leadership roles that she has held on campus and within her state, regional and national professional associations that advocate for TRIO eligible students.”
Funded by United States Department of Education grants, NMSU’s TRIO Student Support Services Program provides a supportive academic community and helps first-generation students, students with a financial need and students with disabilities reach their full potential and achieve academic success. TRIO Programs extend across the U.S., Guam and the Pacific Islands.
“This life of service has taught me that everyone has some value or worth,” Hicks said. “Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s merely a way to get and stay on the right path. We are always learning and it is okay to dream, because with hard work and determination dreams become reality. TRIO is a movement. TRIO is a nation. TRIO is not race based. TRIO is systemic, its services and successes are spread throughout families, neighborhoods, cities and states.”
Hicks began her professional career with TRIO as a tutor counselor, adviser and dorm director for the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology Consortium Upward Bound Program. After living overseas for several years, Hicks joined the University of Texas at El Paso as a financial aid grant officer and then as the Educational Talent Search Program director. While at UTEP, she served as president of the Texas Association of Student Services Program and on the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs board.
In May, Hicks marked 10 years of service at NMSU. In that span, she served as president of TRIO New Mexico and on the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs board.
“The TRIO journey has provided some valuable experiences and rewards,” Hicks said. “Students can be successful when given the right tools: resources, love, care and concern. Students change from generation to generation and so do their needs. There is no cookie cutter recipe to meet the needs of students. Each student is an individual.”
While dedicating her career to TRIO Programs, Hicks used her personal experience as a first-generation and low-income student to relate to and empower subsequent generations.
“Once I completed my undergraduate degree, my motto was to help the next one up and teach students how to navigate through a system that seemed to be against them,” Hicks said. “TRIO allowed me to fulfill my life quest. Through TRIO, I learned perseverance, resilience, discernment, grit, integrity, loyalty, caring and the meaning of family. TRIO has given me a rich life of memories, fulfillment, accomplishments, and a lifetime of friends and allies.
“I served during turbulent times for TRIO, during times of budget cuts and reformation, and during the development of TRIO nation. I was always fortunate enough to connect to TRIO Programs wherever my life journey took me.”