TRIO leads students to four-year colleges

Caroline Olsen-Van Stone

The specialized TRIO tutoring program has received too many applications this semester and has had to place 200 students on a wait list. They can only accept 200 students at a time.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to turn people away. The majority of the students at City have an academic need,” new program director Nesha Savage said. She believes that the increase is mostly because more students are enrolling in community college.

“We are limited by the grant. If it were up to us, we would help everyone,” Savage said.

To qualify for the program, students must demonstrate academic need, first-generation college students, low-income students or students hoping to transfer. Applications are available at the beginning of each semester. TRIO offers tutoring, counseling, 4-year institution field trips, transfer advice and a free computer lab.

The program moved to the newly remodeled L building on July 20 and welcomed a new member to their team, Director Savage. “She has fresh, new ideas. She’s bringing a big energy, and we’re going to new heights,” said program staff member Val Sacro.

Other TRIO staff members are Maria Palomo and three counselors: Rudy Zamora, Freddie Richards and Katheryn Kraffert.

“The six of us are a great team. We’re like a family,” said Savage.

English Professor Terrie Relf holds her office hours in the TRIO office, so that students in the program can also ask her questions without an appointment.

The new location offers many things that their previous space did not. Before, they were sharing A-10 with CalWorks and New Horizons, two other programs that serve different student populations.

“It was loud and uncomfortable,” said Sacro. “Now, (our space) has more than tripled.” Their program’s office now has a group study room, three offices and a lounge area with a sofa, chairs and tables for studying.

Accounting major student, Niasha Porras highlighted the importance of the program. “I’m the first in my family [to go to college]. Val is so helpful. Without the support system, it’s very difficult (for me) to succeed in my classes.”

Savage is currently planning a Hermanos Unidos, Brothers United Conference (HUBU) for October; the conference focuses on ways of retaining African-American and Latino male students. For the conference she is collaborating with UMOJA, Puente, EOPS, and Mesa.

“We want to address the Black and Latino male students, and connect them with mentors and small groups,” Savage said. She is also planning other events, like poetry nights, Cesar Chavez Day celebration and faculty-led peer study groups.

One of their most widely attended events last year was the TRIO program’s Study Jam. For that event, they collaborated with UMOJA and Puente to bring English Professors Oscar Preciado, Daryl Sligh, Terrie Relf and retiree Bill Weiner to the event to provide personal assistance to TRIO students.

“It’s all about collaboration. In light of budget cuts, usually collaborative efforts are most efficient in meeting students’ needs,” said Savage.
TRIO is located on the first floor of the L building, in L-114.