Getting into college is hardly the finish line for students; support programs like TRIO are integral in ensuring that many college students have the resources and support they need in order to do well.
At HBU, the TRIO program is part of the Department of Student Success & Advising. As director of HBU Student Support Services for TRIO, helping students is personal for Cristina Ramos. Everyone in the department, including Sarah Garza, administrative assistant for TRIO Student Support Services, understands that the department’s approach to each student is individualized. “We really try to meet students wherever they are in their collegiate journeys, and cheer them on toward customized success,” Garza said.
The customization comes especially through relationships. Ariana Alexander, an HBU TRIO student success coach, engages students not only with program staff, but helps connect them with other mentors. She recently served as a host for a TRIO dinner in which program participants asked questions of professor panelists.
“We hope students can really get to know their professors,” Alexander said. “One of the reasons for the dinner is that it is an environment in which conversations can take place. We’re hoping to give students building blocks for their own success.”
Students in TRIO have access to activities and resources like success seminars, financial literacy workshops, writing workshops, operas, musicals, ballets, museums and more. The experiences expose them to new people, opportunities and fresh ideas.
Junior Eunique Williams, a Biology major, has visited graduate schools, attended pre-medical conferences and served as a student ambassador, all through the TRIO program. “My experiences have shaped my professional and leadership development. I’ve even made gains academically through the program,” she said. “Without TRIO, I would not have been able to experience such rich opportunities. I love the fact that the doors of TRIO staff are always open to students for support.”
Ramos said that every student gains something distinctive to him or her. “TRIO is a program that caters to the needs of each student in the program,” she said.
Trent Clark, a junior majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, describes TRIO as one of God’s blessings. “I know TRIO has allowed me to grow as a person and to experience so many new things in life,” he said. “The TRIO staff members have become an indispensable part of my support system here on campus.”
As the dean of the Department of Student Success & Advising, Dr. David Hao witnesses the positive results of TRIO participation each year. “TRIO is one of the most important programs at HBU in improving overall student retention and timely graduation,” he said. “TRIO works!”
More than just promoting accomplishments and the acquisition of new ideas while in school, TRIO is helpful for students’ life trajectories. Ramos said, “We love serving students by providing clear paths in navigating their lives at HBU and beyond.”
International Business Major Jacqueline Mendez, a senior, agreed. “The events and workshops I’ve been part of have left an impression on me, and I continue to learn from them,” she said. “Through TRIO, I have gained valuable experiences that will enable me to be successful after graduation.”
What is TRIO?
The federal TRIO program is a taxpayer-funded initiative of the U.S. Department of Education. (TRIO is not an acronym.) The program serves first-generation college students, students who meet U.S. Department of Education income guidelines, and students who have a documented disability. It allows for the training of TRIO staff members as well. Its existence is the result of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Higher Education Amendments of 1968.