At Pellissippi State Community College, every student comes with his or her own story: the single mother, the working professional, the high school graduate. And each student can find community in the college’s TRiO Student Support Services program. TRiO is part of a federal initiative that supports the unique needs of first-generation and low-income students and students with disabilities.
More than half of Pellissippi State’s students are the first in their family to go to college, and more than a third are from low-income households. An estimated 3 percent of Pellissippi State students have a disability.
“The students who come to TRiO aren’t less academically able or physically able necessarily,” said Mark Cotter, director of TRiO at Pellissippi State, “but many of them just didn’t grow up in a culture that’s familiar with college. TRiO is here to help level that playing field and show those students the ropes.”
Yvette Satchel, who graduated from the Nursing program in May, first heard about TRiO from another student.
“From the first day I stepped into the office, it felt like a home away from home,” she said. “TRiO helped me tremendously during my time at Pellissippi State. They were like family to me.”
Satchel acknowledges TRiO’s role in helping her earn her way into Phi Theta Kappa honor society, as well as in helping connect her to scholarships for tuition and study abroad.
In July, Pellissippi State’s TRiO Support Services Program received a federal grant for nearly $1.24 million over five years. The grant was awarded to only four community colleges in the state. The funds will pay to continue support services like tutoring, academic advising, career counseling and even financial literacy education. Each year, the grant will pay to enroll 160 students who demonstrate academic need in support programs that focus on improving students’ academic standing, retention rates and graduation or transfer rates.
“I’ll personally walk other students to the TRiO office so they know the support they can receive there,” Satchel said. “My motto for Pellissippi State has always been that there’s no way to fail here, because they give you all the tools you need to succeed. If you don’t do as you expected, then you didn’t use all the tools — like TRiO — at your disposal.”
This is the fourth time Pellissippi State has won the competitive TRiO Student Support Services grant. The college has operated the program for the past 15 years.
Download this press release: TRiO Grant