Aspiring College Students Honed Leadership and Legislative Skills in Washington, D.C.


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Talent Search students Gabrielle Russell and Jayden Urioste meet with Congressman Steve Womack

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Talent Search students Gabrielle Russell and Jayden Urioste meet with Congressman Steve Womack

U of A Talent Search students Gabrielle Russell from Van Buren High School and Jayden Urioste from Eureka Springs High School were in Washington, D.C., this month participating in in a rigorous six-day leadership experience through National Student Leadership Congress.

During the Leadership Congress, the more than 100 delegates from across the country slept, studied and dined on the Georgetown University campus. In addition to meeting their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill, delegates engaged in conflict resolution workshops, diversity training and spent much of the program researching a critical and controversial current policy issue, drafting legislation and then arguing their position on this question. 

National Student Leadership Congress (NSLC) allows students across the country who participate in the federal TRIO programs, which are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, to achieve a higher education. Student delegates who participate in the D.C. program are rising TRIO juniors or seniors who are nominated by their local TRIO directors because of their leadership potential.  

“To really drive home the values of democracy and citizen participation, it’s important to engage students in activities that target their current issues of concern,” said Maureen Hoyler, CEO of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education, which sponsored the event. “NSLC gives these students with high potential the leadership skills that will enable them to compete academically and to participate fully in our democratic society.”

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a non-profit organization established in 1981 dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities in all 50 states, D.C., the Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, COE works in conjunction with colleges, universitie and agencies to help first-generation students enter college and graduate. More than a million students each year receive college access and retention services through COE’s member colleges and agencies. 

Talent Search Programs, a department in the Division of Student Affairs, is composed of three U.S. Department of Education grants. The Division of Student Affairs support students in pursuing knowledge, earning a degree, finding meaningful careers, exploring diversity and connecting with the global community.  

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