The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that Craven Community College (Craven CC) will receive a federal Student Support Services (SSS) grant of $1.3 million to help more students succeed and and graduate from college. The grant will be awarded in installments each fiscal year over the next five years. This is the third time Craven CC has received this grant, which is awarded every five years.
SSS helps college students who are low income, first generation (those whose parents do not have a four-year college degree) or students with disabilities. The array of services the grant will provide are comprehensive and will include academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help in choosing courses and other forms of assistance. Such services enhance academic success and make it more likely that students will graduate or transfer with the lowest possible debt.
“We are always working to minimize barriers to education and maximize opportunities for all our students,” said Dr. Ray Staats, Craven CC president. “This grant will ensure that we are able to continue serving students who can benefit the most from specialized advising and tutoring services.”
SSS began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success, it bolsters students from low income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had and it helps students with disabilities remove obstacles preventing them from thriving academically.
Craven CC’s TRIO program is funded to serve 186 Craven CC students who meet the federal eligibility requirements to qualify for TRIO SSS. TRIO services include assistance in choosing a college; tutoring; personal and financial counseling; career counseling; assistance in applying to college; workplace and college visits; special instruction in reading, writing, study skills and mathematics; assistance in applying for financial aid; and academic support in high school or assistance to re-enter high school. The TRIO department has had to alter delivery methods of certain services amid the pandemic while making sure students still receive the support they need to be successful.
“Craven CC has truly welcomed the TRIO program on both the New Bern and Havelock campuses over the last 10 years, and the staff is fully integrated into the college,” said Donna Marshall, director of Craven CC’s TRIO SSS. “Other staff and faculty refer students who they believe will benefit from the supportive, intrusive services offered by the program.”
Marshall was a first-generation college student, and she believes the TRIO program would have been extremely beneficial to her. She is thrilled to be able to provide Craven CC students with the resources she never had because she understands just how impactful they are.
“I am so excited that we have been selected for funding for another grant cycle,” she added. “The TRIO Student Support Services program is a great addition to an already excellent campus experience here at Craven Community College. Students leaving our program by graduating or transferring repeatedly share with us that they believe they could not have done it without the support, encouragement and accountability of TRIO. We truly are a family. We get to know the students in our program and offer individualized assistance to help them be successful, not only while at Craven, but throughout their college experiences and, we hope, life in general.”
For more than 50 years, the SSS program has made important contributions to individuals and society as a whole by providing a broad range of services to help students succeed. This vital program can and does make all the difference. Many SSS alumni have gone on to great success, among them Emmy, Tony and Academy-Award winning actress Viola Davis; U.S. Rep. Gwendolyn Moore of Wisconsin’s 4th District; and Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic astronaut.
For more information about Craven CC’s TRIO program, contact the New Bern campus at 252-638-1263 or the Havelock campus at 252-444-8206, or visit cravencc.edu/trio.
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on August 26, 2020.