Last week I had the privilege to give the welcome for TRIO Day. I was delighted to be invited and honored to be able to speak to the attendees, as it is a program near and dear to my heart. In fact, I am a graduate of the TRIO program here at UND. It seems like only yesterday that I was a single mother of four boys, working three jobs, and trying to determine how I was going to establish a solid and secure future for myself and family. I walked into the TRIO office and immediately was greeted warmly. I was offered guidance and assistance from the staff and they were able to help me determine a plan and course of action. I went on to receive my bachelor’s, master’s, and finally my doctorate degree in Physical Therapy–all from UND. If it had not been for the staff and resources in the TRIO department, I am not sure I would be sitting here writing to you today from this interim VP seat! So, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the TRIO department and staff and I have asked the TRIO director, Derek Sporbert, to provide a little history and background on the TRIO program.
The University of North Dakota TRIO Programs have been proudly serving low income and first generation students for over 50 years. TRIO is the largest Department of Education grant program and its purpose is to assist low-income and first-generation students in achieving academic success. TRIO was established by the Department of Education in response to President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in 1964. UND was awarded its first TRIO grant in 1965 and since that time, UND has added five separate TRIO grants each of which serve a specific age demographic. The TRIO Programs at UND include: Talent Search (middle school and high school students); Upward Bound, (high school intervention); Educational Opportunity Center (adults re-entering secondary/post-secondary education); Student Support Services (enrolled UND undergraduates); and McNair (UND juniors or seniors interested in PhD. research). TRIO Programs have been supported at UND for over 50 years, making UND one of the longest continually running TRIO programs in the country!
The focus of the programs is primarily to work with students who come from low income and/or first generation families. The program helps students explore, enroll and succeed at postsecondary education. Pre-college programs (Talent Search, Upward Bound, and Educational Opportunity Center) work to educate students on the necessary high school course selections, college tours, career exploration, financial aid, money & time management, study skills, and a host of other services to prepare area students for college coursework. TRIO college programs (Student Support Services and McNair) focus on postsecondary success, study skills, course selection, academic tutoring, and in the case of McNair; faculty mentors, undergraduate research, graduate school exploration and preparation, and PhD track academics.
Throughout TRIO’s history at UND, its greatest resource has been the tenacity of the students it serves. Selena Garza, a UND senior majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology, recently reflected on her experience with TRIO and McNair. She had this to say,” …if it weren’t for TRIO & McNair I wouldn’t even have had the idea that I would be able to continue my education past my bachelor’s degree…I wouldn’t have known the first thing about making that a reality. Coming from (my) background…it wasn’t until I gained the support of my fellow scholars, mentor, & Patrice Giese (TRIO advisor) that I realized I really can do all of these things & that nothing is out of reach for me…I not only can but WILL make all of my dreams a reality.”
Let’s go Fighting Hawks!