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K-State Today

February 21, 2014

National TRiO Day, Feb. 22: Supporting low-income, first-generation students

Submitted by Kathy Zarka

National TRIO Logo

Every year, the last Saturday of February is celebrated as National TRiO Day. 

Kansas State University, Manhattan campus, has two of the TRiO programs, Student Support Services, known at K-State as Educational Supportive Services, or ESS, and the McNair Scholars Program.

Thousands of K-State students have received services through Educational Supportive Services over the years. Free, one-on-one tutoring is the service most commonly used on K-States campus.  Taneysha Howard, a participant in Educational Supportive Services has the following to say about what she has achieved as a result of using Educational Supportive Services at K-State.

"TRiO helped me learn that it was OK to ask for help and there are people on campus who want to help you succeed," she said. "The strengths I acquired using ESS helped me make a difference on my campus and be involved in various organizations.”

The McNair Scholars Program has helped many students graduate with a master’s degree and several with doctorates.

"While being a TRiO student I learned that school didn’t need to be over at a bachelor’s degree level, and I could go to graduate school and pursue a doctoral degree," said Obdulia Covarrubias, a current participant of the McNair Scholars Program at K-State. "McNair has opened the door to many other awards and opportunities for me to go to graduate school, like working in a laboratory doing research."

TRiO began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty in the mid 1960’s — a period of activism in the civil rights movement.  

The Higher Education Act of 1965 established three college programs to provide services that assist disadvantaged students in preparing for and completing a post-secondary education. Upward Bound was the first program created by the 1964 Educational Opportunity Act. Upward Bound identifies promising high school students and helps them to prepare for college. Talent Search, the next program created, was designed to encourage middle school, high school and high school dropout students to continue their education. Finally, the third of the original three programs is Student Support Services. This program is committed to helping college students persist through graduation.

Since the 1960’s, other TRiO programs have been created, to help eligible students in specialized circumstances.  Veterans Upward Bound provides intensive basic skills for military veterans to help them successfully transition to postsecondary education. The 1972 Higher Education Act amendments authorized Educational Opportunity Centers. These programs promote postsecondary education in communities with large populations of low-income adults. The Upward Bound math/science was first funded in 1990 to address a need for strengthened math and science instruction for high school students, to prepare them for those curriculums in college.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program was authorized in the 1986 Higher Education Act amendments. McNair increases the number of low-income, first-generation and students underrepresented in higher education, who pursue doctoral degrees and increases the number of persons from these backgrounds who teach on college campuses.