For 20 years, SCTCC’s TRIO Student Support Services has been helping students make the most of their educational journey and creating lasting friendships along the way.
What is TRIO?
TRIO is a federally funded grant with a purpose of helping low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities successfully complete a program of study in college.
Every year, the TRIO program accepts 160 eligible students who have applied, providing them with support through advising, tutoring, help with financial aid, activities throughout the year, and a community of students.
In the 20 years that TRIO has been active at SCTCC, about 2000 students have been served. While TRIO can only serve 160 students a year, close to 75% of SCTCC students are eligible for the program (based on 2014 data).
The program at SCTCC meets its grant goals and objectives by maintaining a persistence rate of 65% and seeing roughly 75% of TRIO students in good academic standing.
“TRIO is an integral part of student retention and success at SCTCC,” said William Tuoy-Giel, TRIO SSS Director. “It would be safe to say that TRIO makes a difference in the lives of many students who may have had hard times adjusting to college life and expectations.”
Changes over 20 years
There have been changes along the way for TRIO since it opened its doors on Sept. 1, 1997.
The student population has reflected the changes in diversity that the greater St. Cloud area has seen. Another change that affected TRIO was the move to a comprehensive community college in 2010. These changes affected the types of students served as well as the strategies that TRIO staff took to help students be successful.
Former director Greg Reigstad was around for the changes the program experienced but mentioned that they didn’t affect how students were served.
“I used to think of it as wrap-around counseling,” Reigstad said. “It not only provides great information for students, but it provides a place to go and get help on wide ranging set of issues and a friendly face to talk to.”
The model TRIO uses for student success is one example of how to make the college system work for students.
Reigstad said that TRIO’s support for students in financial aid, tutoring, and advising is reflected in the completion rates and academic standing in students. The support doesn’t stop there.
“TRIO always acts as an advocate for disadvantaged students and works to improve their experience at SCTCC and their chances of obtaining a worthwhile career,” said Reigstad.
For many TRIO students, the group of fellow students is what makes the program work.
“The TRIO program introduced me to many people who are now my close friends,” said TRIO student Kevin Huichapa, a 2017 graduate. “Where I once thought I was alone on this college journey, TRIO has become like a second home for me.”
For Tuoy-Giel, his appointment as the TRIO SSS Director brought him full circle: he is an alum of the program. “I have seen students who join TRIO with little or no knowledge of college life and expectations become enlightened to their full potentials as they pursue their goals. TRIO at SCTCC is an integral part of their success.”
Student academic achievement may be how the TRIO SSS grant is measured as successful, and if you ask TRIO students, they will say that the advising, tutoring, and help with the college experience is an essential part of TRIO. But it’s more than just academics that lasts.
“Through TRIO, I’ve been able to meet a lot of interesting people. We hang out in school and outside of school as well – playing games and watching movies,” said current TRIO student Alexis Zimmer.
Ultimately, it’s the relationships and community building that students remember long after academics are over. Zimmer says it best: “If it wasn’t for TRIO, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to establish these lifelong friendships.”
Interested in TRIO?
Check out sctcc.edu/trio for more information and to apply.