Will serve as delegate to student leadership congress

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Alyssa R. Ordonez had never considered visiting Washington, D.C., until her mother told her she was going as a delegate to the National Student Leadership Congress.

"I was so shocked when I heard. I never really thought that I would go to Washington, D.C. I've never been out of state. I am really excited," Ordonez said.

The Alice High School junior received this honor through her participation in the TRiO Program at Coastal Bend College.

Ordonez is one of two area students selected to attend the congress from the Coastal Bend area. She was selected from a field of 550 candidates from across South Texas, she said. Ordonez will spend six days in Washington D.C. learning key elements of effective leadership, participating in workshops on decision-making and problem solving, participating in community building through service and participating in the political process through coalition building, multiculturalism and diversity.

Ordonez will also have the opportunity to meet with members of Congress, and visit historical and cultural sites, including the White House. The congress takes place June 9 to 14.

"This is my first year in the TRiO Program, and they actually do a lot for you. They provide lots of tutoring programs, college-for-a-day trips and they help with filling out financial aid forms," Ordonez said.

When considering how she was going to apply to college and how she was going to pay for it, Ordonez was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that's required to apply for college and financial programs. With the help of the TRiO Program though, she said she feels less stressed out going into her senior year, because she knows the program really does help students with the paperwork.

"There are some organizations that ask you to sign up, and then they never do anything with you, they never follow up. But they actually help you in TRiO. They take you out of class to talk to you about college plans, about scholarships and grants and financial aid. They ask you about how your classes are going and give us more opportunities than a lot of programs out there," Ordonez said.

She is currently ranked 11th in her junior class of nearly 400 students and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. Ordonez plays third base on the AHS Varsity Softball team, and she has a long list of colleges she's currently considering, including Texas Tech, UT Dallas, Texas A and M University Corpus Christi, Texas A and M University Kingsville and Texas Women's University. Ordonez's interests lie in the medical field, and she hopes to pursue studies towards a degree in pharmacy or emergency room medicine.

"This program has really opened up my mind. I'm not so worried now about preparing for college. The people here help you; you don't have to do it on your own. I'm glad I have the TRiO Program to help me and keep me going in the right direction," Ordonez said.