National TRiO Day Celebrated February 18 at Tri-County Technical College
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2/13/2008
CONTACT: DR. THWANDA DAVIDSON, 646-1590
(By Lisa Garrett)
PENDLETON --- Thwanda Davidson identifies with the struggles and frustrations of potential first-generation college students and their parents.
During her high school days, she never considered college as an option for herself. She was an average student with no educational ambition beyond high school, and no one in her family had gone to college. One day she traveled to Lander University with a friend who was filling out financial aid information for the coming semester. Davidson couldn’t understand why, despite her protests, the counselor keep prodding her to fill out the financial aid information, also, and even supplied her with a postage-paid envelope.
Davidson reluctantly filled out the paperwork, returned it and was astounded when she was accepted during the fall of 1981. “I attended Lander University -- something I never dreamed -- because someone cared. Between my parents and Lander’s guidance counselor, we made it happen.”
Today, Dr. Davidson, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with an Ed. D. in Higher Education Leadership, leads Tri-County Technical College’s TRiO programs, three federal programs that have been transforming lives by providing academic and motivational support for students beginning in middle school and continuing through graduation from college. Like her financial aid counselor at Lander, she takes the time to offer encouragement for middle, high school and Tri-County students to overcome barriers and give them the hope they need to be successful.
“I can see first hand the difference our services make in their lives. We’re right there for them. Education makes dreams come true,” said Dr. Davidson. “I know how overwhelming it is to maintain the academic requirements for success. I wish I had known about the many academic resources of TRiO back when I was in high school.”
Tri-County’s three TRiO programs, Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services, are designed to provide educational opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstances, said Davidson, who worked as program and tutor coordinator for Student Support Services in the 1990’s.
These programs have provided support to more than 21,000 first-generation (neither parent has a bachelor's degree) and income-eligible students in Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties since 1978.
February 23 is National TRiO Day, but Tri-County will recognize it on February 18 with a series of events planned to create public awareness of the varied services that the programs provide. All events are open to the public.
The day kicks off Monday, February 18, with a Coffee Talk with the TRiO staff from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. in the Staff Lounge in Anderson Hall. “We will give an overview of our services, our students will share their experiences and our counselors will give information on what they are doing in the community to impact young people’s lives,” said Dr. Davidson. “We want the public to be more informed about the educational services we provide on a daily basis. Not only do we provide valuable tutoring and counseling services, but we also provide motivational support to students who are thinking about quitting school. The key is providing them with the tools and information at an early age and get them thinking about their long-term goals.”
Next from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., there will be a celebration in the Cafeteria with TRiO trivia game, based on the Coffee Talk presentation, and chances to win door prizes. A nationally produced TRiO video will be shown, followed by a pizza lunch in the cafeteria.
“College is an option for everyone, and the TRiO program provides the resources for students to be successful. We have great relationships with the counselors in the schools, and they tell students about our services,” Dr. Davidson said.
“We have wonderful days in front of us. And we’ll continue to keep putting students first,” she said.
For more information about TRiO, contact the TRiO office at (864) 646-1588.
TRiO Programs at Tri-County Technical College
Student Support Services’ (SSS) goal is to increase the college retention and graduation rate of its participants and to help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next. More than 175 participants receive a myriad of services including tutoring, counseling and supplemental instruction at the College through SSS.
Upward Bound (UB) provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The goal is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education, enroll in and graduate from post-secondary institutions. All UB programs must provide instruction in math, laboratory science, composition/literature and a foreign language. Tri-County's UB program serves 85 students at 11 area high schools.
The Educational Talent Search (ETS) program purpose is to increase the graduation and college entrance rates of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. ETS also serves high school dropouts by encouraging them to re-enter the educational system and complete their education. The College’s ETS program serves 700 students at six middle and 13 high schools in the tri-county area. ETS strives to provide academic support (tutoring in middle and high school), cultural exposure, college admissions and financial aid assistance in understanding their educational opportunities.