TRIO: Helping Students to College Success

     TRIO College Access Services–Upward Bound just wrapped up their 39th intensive academic, residential program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Serving 129 high school students from throughout Aroostook County, TRIO Upward Bound assists students who dream of being the first in their family to attend college.

     This past summer we had an outstanding staff that included four current UMPI students or recent graduates working in live-in positions as our residence director and counselor/tutors, who perform duties like those of both a resident assistant and a teaching assistant. They not only earned a salary plus their room and board for seven weeks, they gained valuable experience that will assist them as they finish up college and embrace professional life.

     Matthew Theriault, a recent graduate of UMPI and an Upward Bound alumnus, was once again the English C/T for the summer program. Commenting on the cohesiveness of the group, he explained, “Although this summer presented new and exciting challenges and adventures, what really made the difference for me was the amazing staff we had. I never once questioned if they had my back. Even on the longest days, we understood where everyone was at and fed off of each other to be a strong, cohesive unit.” Looking ahead to his new position as an AmeriCorps tutor at the Great Oaks Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware, he said, “I gained a lot of leadership skills that will definitely serve me well as I take up my new position in Delaware.

     Kelley McNary, a senior at UMPI studying biopsychology, reflected on her summer experience with Upward Bound by citing a quote by James Cash Penney.  “‘Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.’ This makes me think of the kids’ growth this summer, and acknowledging how much work they (and we) put into it.”

     The possibilities are almost endless for gaining hands-on, real world experience in a professional setting through TRIO! The department encompasses two different federally funded college access programs through three federal grants: two Upward Bound programs and an Educational Talent Search program. The goal of all TRIO programs is to help students gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be successful in earning a college degree. Eligible students in grades 6-12 benefit from ETS services and UB serves students in grades 9-12.

     To qualify, students must meet one or more guidelines. They must potentially be the first in their families to earn a college degree. In other words, neither parent has yet earned a four-year (bachelor level) degree. Or the family must meet federal income guidelines, which are based on family size and taxable income. Or students must have a particular academic need or other barrier.

     Some of the services provided fall into both the academic year and the summer. Opportunities for UMPI students to help and gain relevant professional skills at the same time come in the form of tutoring, mentoring and workshop presentations on issues that concern teens.  Other opportunities focus on academic subjects such as organization, time management or writing better essays and on office tasks such as website updating, creating workshop packets and filing. Some are regular positions that earn a paycheck, such as the counselor/tutor jobs in the summer, tutors in the academic year and work experience. Others might be counted as an internship.

     On another note, we are pleased to announce that due to the tremendous support from our alumni, parents and our congressional delegation, an intense funding scare for two TRIO Upward Bound programs at the University of Maine at Presque Isle was resolved in the fall of 2018 resulting in both federal grants being fully funded for another five years.

     So welcome back!  And if you need a spot to apply and hone your abilities, consider TRIO College Access Services a ready-made learning lab! Stop by our offices in suite 16, Preble Hall, and we’ll see what we can do.