Photo by Jill May/The Siskiyou
Success at Southern member and SOU junior Whitney Spain draws a raffle ticket out of a bowl from Success at Southern Associate Director Gwen Morris during the organization's graduation luncheon and ce
Upcoming graduates shared tears of success with fellow Success at Southern members, staff and family during a celebration luncheon of their accomplishments this year.
In light of the upcoming Southern Oregon University graduation ceremony the Success at Southern program sponsored a congratulatory lunch for all-inclusive members Friday in the Guanajuato room of the Stevenson Union.
A lunch of tacos and tostadas was served, door prizes drawn and many acknowledgments of success were given.
In an opening speech Gwen Morris, associate director of Success at Southern gave acknowledgements to mentors, tutors, staff and family of the students.
"The reality is none of us make it in this world alone," she said.
Success at Southern is a federally funded grant program acquired by SOU that serves low-income, first generation students or those with documented disabilities. Some types of broadly defined academic needs are also a qualification for the program.
Nicole Vilarino, a junior health and P.E. major at SOU and three- year member of Success at Southern, spoke about the positive aspects of the program.
"They help with scholarships, financial aid, pretty much anything you need they are there for. It’s a really good program," she said.
Director of Success at Southern Kathy McNeill awarded certificates to the 17 seniors who were or were not present at the luncheon. In turn the seniors were given an opportunity to express their gratitude to the people who have helped them along their journey towards graduation.
Graduating senior Lee Murphy, a psychology major and transfer student from Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, attributed part of her success at SOU to the program, McNeill and the program’s staff.
"Anytime I ran into any kind of road block, there was somebody there to help me either get around it, get over it, work through it, talk to someone, network with somebody. It was like the ultimate resource place, and the support I was given was amazing," she said.
During the luncheon other Success students were acknowledged and awarded certificates for receiving scholarships. Work-study students and tutors were also awarded certificates of gratitude.
Fellow staff members Morris and Jessica Eggertsen, counselor and instructor, gave a special presentation of thanks to McNeill – a flower arrangement expressing their gratitude for 11 years of service in the Success at Southern program. McNeill will retire as director of the program on June 30.
For more information about the Success at Southern program, call 541-552-6062.