Weatherford College TRIO programs celebrated first generation college students through a variety of events this week.
First generation students are defined as any student who comes from a family where neither parent has completed a bachelor’s degree.
Activities included promotional wrist bands and T-shirts celebrating first generation students and a wall of college faculty and staff members who are first generation college students on display in the lobby of the Academic Building.
“We wanted to show our students that being a first generation student is not a limitation or disadvantage by introducing them to members of our faculty and staff who are also first generation,” said Kim Hutton, Director of Student Support Services. “We hope this will build a connection as well as allow students to see the different colleges attended by our faculty and staff.”
The week’s events culminated with an “I Am First” rally on the steps of the Speaker Jim Wright Library on Wednesday afternoon. Several students, faculty and staff members shared their stories of being first generation students.
“Without this program I would not be the person I am today,” said TRIO student Noe Barrientos who plans to graduate with his associate’s degree in May and then enter the WC nursing program. “I want to thank all of my professors for pushing me to become better.”
First generation students are provided a variety of services through TRIO programs.
Started in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, TRIO began with three programs—Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services. These three original programs are all funded on the WC campus and target economically disadvantaged students who are also first generation college students.
Upward Bound focuses on intensive academic intervention with 55 high school students with tutoring, college admissions, standardized test prep and a summer college component with the goal being post-secondary education enrollment.
“Upward Bound provides the opportunity for student to get a realistic college like living environment while still in high school,” said Upward Bound Director Jeff Kahlden. “The opportunity to see what college is like but with a safety net is what allows many of our students to be prepared to start college with confidence and with a working knowledge of being a college student.”
Educational Talent Search reaches 600 students at 16 area schools and provides motivation and guidance to middle and high school students.
“Talent Search helps student navigate the pathway to college which can be very difficult and confusing especially for first generation college students,” said Talent Search, Director Deborah Jogie-Cregger. “Trio makes a difference through education.”
Student Support Services supports students on the Weatherford College campus to increase retention, completion or transfer to a four-year university. Student support services serves 160 students at WC campus.
All TRIO programs are funded through competitive grants from the Department of Education.