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April 7, 2015

Schears receives Achiever Award


Roxanna James and Ben SchearsOn Thursday, April 2, Ben Schears, vice-president for institutional advancement at Cowley College, was awarded the 2015 Mo-Kan-Ne Trio Achiever Award at the Chapter Banquet in Kansas City, MO.

MO-KAN-NE (MKN) is the 3-state chapter of the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MAEOPP), one of the 10 regional associations in the U.S. that form the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). The Council represents TRIO programs nationwide. There are 137 TRIO programs in the MKN service region with approximately 39 million dollars going to programs that help serve over 43,000 participants.

TRIO is a set of federally-funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree. The MKN TRIO Achiever’s Award is given in recognition of the successes and outstanding endeavors of TRIO alumni from within the three-state chapter and the programs that supported them in their journey to accomplished careers.

Each candidate must be a person of high stature within his/her profession and/or has received recognition for outstanding accomplishments. The candidate also must have made significant civic, community or professional contributions.

Schears was nominated by Roxanna James, IMPACT (TRIO - Student Support Services) director.  She felt Schears was a perfect fit for this award.

“Benjamin began his TRIO career as a student at Cowley College in 2000. Since that time, he has continued to make contribution to TRIO as well as students across campus, the college, and the community.” James said.

Mo-Kan-Ne President Mike Conley said of Schears, “Mr. Schears is more than deserving of this award. He epitomizes the TRIO spirit of overcoming adversity and of making a positive impact in our communities. I know that the TRIO Achiever’s Award will not be the last honor that Ben earns.”

After accepting the award, Schears delivered an emotional, heartfelt, and memory-filled speech.

“It was truly an honor to be nominated and receive the TRIO Achiever award, but it’s really not about me – it’s about the TRIO program employees who dedicate their lives to helping underserved students, like I was, achieve their goals,” Schears said.

He praised the IMPACT Program for its outstanding work, not just with him, but with all the students they serve. In particular, he talked about former TRIO directors Sue Saia and Pam Doyle and how their efforts to mentor him both as a student and later an employee, were driving forces that led him to succeed. The fact that he married the best looking math tutor on campus, his wife Rachel, didn’t hurt either! 

“The attention and care the IMPACT program had for me when I was a student changed my life in profound ways,” Schears said. “I am a walking testimony of what can happen when quality programs, with caring individuals running them, encounter students who need their help.”