U-Mary TRIO Program Offers Leg Up to First Generation Students

Enrolling in college is often the first step in earning a degree. 

But for first generation or low income students there might be a few more challenges along the way.

The Pell Institute found low income and first generation students were nearly four times more likely to leave school after their first year. 

So through a special program at Mary students are getting a leg up, and a helping hand, in accomplishing a first, and taking home a diploma.

Going to school and hitting the books doesn’t always lead to success and when you’re the first of your family to do it, the odds aren’t always in your favor.

“I’m the first in my entire family, so my aunts, and uncles, everybody, I’m the first one. So, I didn’t really, they didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do,” Dora Cantu, U-Mary junior says.

First generation students like Cantu are more likely to face certain challenges like financial and higher drop out rates.

But one student advisor says the key to unlocking their success is access to the help they need.

“There’s such a need for a program that supports students who are disadvantaged,” Ra ‘Shi Common, academic advisor says.

Stepping onto a college campus, there are a lot of firsts, but the TRIO program is there every step of the way.

“I was new to college nobody told me what to expect,” Cantu says.

“Anytime I fall back, or need any help, they’re here to help me,” Marquell Evans, U-Mary freshman says.

TRIO offers low income, first generation, and students with disabilities the opportunity to get connected with an advisor to help guide them throughout college.

“Education is the key to ending poverty and to bettering your life in general. So I believe in programs, in systems, that set people up that set everyone up for success.” Ra ‘Shi Common, Academic Advisor

Helping getting students involved in college life, organization, class scheduling, or simply lending an ear during times of stress.

“And always tell them my troubles and my worries it was just like okay they have my back,” Cantu says.

To help students reach their ultimate goal.

“With TRIO, I’ve felt like I could succeed, and come April, I’ll be graduating from here,” Nicole Miller, U-Mary senior says.  

Beating the odds.

“I am the first out of my entire family and I did it,” Cantu says.

And reaching the finish line.

The University of Mary TRIO program is a federally funded and advises up to 160 students.

The program focuses on  getting students successfully through school all the way to graduation day.

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