Through a grouping of long-standing federal programs, the university is assisting students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds by providing them with mentoring and educational resources.
According to the Department of Education website, “The Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
The TCU College of Education works with TRIO to assist students from the high school level to graduate school.
The first TRIO program was Upward Bound, which developed out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, according to the Department of Education. The Talent Search Program (1965) and Student Support Services (1968) were added later.
The term “TRIO” was used to refer to these three original programs, and the name stuck, despite the addition of five more components throughout the years.
Steven Hodnett, director of TCU TRIO Programs, explained that the initiative’s purpose is to increase the number of first generation college students who graduate from high school and college.
“We are also involved in preparing students in areas of financial literacy and increasing the number of students pursuing degrees in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] disciplines,” Hodnett said.
The university sponsors Upward Bound, Student Support Services and the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program through the College of Education.
TCU Upward Bound supports middle school and high school students from six Fort Worth schools.
“I feel like being a part of the Upward Bound program gave me the opportunity to see what would be expected of me while in college,” sophomore science movement major Briyet Sigala said. “I had an advantage over other freshmen because I had already taken classes at TCU.”
Hodnett said the university has been involved with TRIO for 47 years and serves a total of 289 students between the three programs. Mentoring current and prospective participants is a key piece of the initiative’s success.
Margaret Faust, director of Upward Bound, said the program encourages graduates to return as work study students, volunteer mentors, campus tour guides and workshop facilitators.
“During the summer when Upward Bound resides in the residence hall on campus, graduates work as resident assistants,” Faust said. “Those who have advanced degrees teach summer classes appropriate to their degree level and conduct workshops and trainings.”
Upward Bound alumni pointed to the spirit of giving back as a key feature of the program and emphasized the importance of community.
“The one thing that I always make sure to tell anyone seeking my advice on the college experience or even applying for colleges is to use everyone around you,” Sigala said.