Published Friday, March 10th, 2017
Three alumni reflect on how TRiO helped them succeed in college and in life.
TRiO Student Support Services is celebrating 25 years at Wayne State College this year. The celebration will include activities with current students, a newsletter featuring TRiO alumni, and hosting of TRiO Day on Feb. 25. The TRiO Day celebration was a regional event hosted at WSC for colleges and universities in the three-state area (Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska). In February the TRiO leaders hosted a campus-wide volleyball tournament. The entry fee for the tournament was donations to soldiers’ care packages.
TRiO is a federally funded program that provides opportunities for academic development, assists students with basic college requirements, and motivates students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education. Through a grant competition, funds are awarded to institutions of higher education. The goal is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants.
“We are excited to be celebrating 25 years of TRiO Student Support Services at Wayne State,” said Dr. Sandra Driskell, Director of TRiO Student Support Services at Wayne State College. “It is satisfying helping WSC retain and graduate first-generation college students. The TRiO students are a diverse group of students who have proven successful in competing on campus and in the job market. We are pleased with the leadership from President Rames, Vice President Carstens, the Foundation office, and many others on campus. TRiO has received special funding from Dr. William R. and Leslie K. Palmer, which has enhanced our program in many ways.”
What Are TRiO Alumni Doing Now?
After participating in TRiO as a student, Kara (Helgoth) Woehler ‘04 is now working as a Learning Skills Specialist for Wayne State’s TRiO program. Last spring, she was recognized as a TRiO Achiever in Kansas City at the annual MO-KAN-NE conference. Woehler
presented “Developing and Promoting a Peer Mentoring Program for First-Year College Students” at the Educational Opportunity Association Conference in St. Louis and at Teaching Academic Survival and Success Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2016.
Woehler was a first-generation student. She said her parents worked hard to help her through college, but TRiO played a big part in her success as well.
“Without the guidance of the TRiO Student Support Services program, my four and a half years at Wayne State would have been more challenging,” she said. “I knew there was always someone in the TRiO office who would be able to answer my questions. I knew there were always tutors who would be able to help me in classes when I was starting to slip. I knew there were people who supported my academic goals and dreams and helped me to reach those dreams. This is what TRiO is all about – helping students reach their dreams.”
Woehler’s professional development includes having served on the Professional Staff Senate, the TRUST Coalition, and the President’s Council for Diversity. She is also a graduate of Leadership Wayne and a member of Leadership Wayne 2.0.
Tamara Nash ‘09 is a State of South Dakota Special Assistant United States Attorney. She was recognized as one of three TRiO Achievers for outstanding achievement at the 10-state Educational Opportunity Association Conference in St. Louis in November.
While attending Wayne State, Nash participated in many different student organizations including serving as a Navigator, an Ambassador, and chair of the Student Judicial Board.
Nash points to the value of the TRiO program during her time at WSC.
“Upon arriving to college I quickly found a home in WSC’s TRiO program. TRiO became my family, my safe place when the world became unsteady.
“The TRiO program impacted my education in ways that I am still just discovering,” she said. “I was empowered to challenge myself and take difficult classes. And through the program I fell in love with the concept of service. I quickly became involved in our TRiO program as a peer-tutor and mentor. It is there where I developed the love of public service – a love that has guided my academic and professional goals since.
“I will always be indebted to the advisors who invested in me and encouraged me and the peers who walked life’s journey with me. TRiO means that you have been afforded the chance to have someone in your corner, an advocate, someone slowly but steadily pushing you until you can push yourself to achieve more.”
Lauren Hall ‘15 utilized TRiO as a student at Wayne State and is currently teaching in South Korea, where she teaches speaking, reading, and writing to a variety of ages. Hall said she took advantage of TRiO even during semesters in which she had lighter loads. She also expressed advice especially for new students.
“A new school year can be scary,” she said. “New classes, teachers, and buildings. It can be overwhelming at times because of how fast paced college is, so it’s easy to fall behind. Knowing you have this great place with people that are willing to help you with not only your academic work but also with personal support is a great feeling. Wayne State was more than just a college experience for me, the teachers and the friends I made there cannot be forgotten – they became family; it became a home away from home.”