Although TriO Student Support Services (TRiO) may be a lesser-known education assistance program, its impact can be great on the students participating in the program. Just ask Kimberely Clark, a Craven Community College (CCC) student studying business management. “I would be lost without student support services,” stated Clark. “If I had known about this program, I would have gone to college a long time ago,” she added. Clark sought out the program after being laid off from her job in December 2012. She is a first-generation college student who has a learning disability. Clark currently maintains a 4.0 GPA and will be graduating next summer. She is also one of the college’s student ambassadors and was recently hired to work in student services to help others at the college.
The goal of TRiO is to reduce challenges of a college education through a variety of services, including academic and career advising, financial aid planning and assisting, academic tutoring, and assisting in the transfer of students from Craven Community College to a 4-year institution.
“We believe anyone can overcome challenges and succeed given the right support,” stated Jennifer Bumgarner, CCC’s new director of TRiO. Bumgarner added, “Many people are aware that TRiO provides scholarships and tutoring, but there are many more services and resources we can provide to ensure each student gets the individualized support he or she needs.” Bumgarner recently joined the college from Appalachian State University where she served as program coordinator for Upward Bound, another TRiO program. She has spent much of her educational career working in programs that help underserved populations gain access to education opportunities.
Fifty students who participated in the TRiO program recently graduated, and 50 more students are expected to graduate in the spring. Bumgarner and her team are beginning the recruiting process for the 2014 fall semester. First-generation students, low-income students or students with disabilities may qualify for free tutoring and other assistance through the TRiO program.
TRiO started almost 60 years ago with three programs. Today, the Student Support Services is just one of eight federally funded TRiO grant competition programs provided by the U.S. Department of Education. According to a report by the Pell Institute, National Studies Find TRIO Programs Effective at Increasing College Enrollment and Graduation, students participating in the these programs are more likely to remain enrolled in higher education, accumulate more college credits and achieve higher grade point averages than similarly qualified students.
In 2010, Craven Community College was awarded $1.2 million in federal grant funds to support its TRiO program through 2015. The college is using the funds to serve a cohort of 180 eligible student participants per year. All TRiO services are available to qualifying students at no cost.
For more information about the TRiO program and its services at CCC, contact Jennifer at 252- 638-1464.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.