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GCU TRIO-SSS Program: A Week of Advocacy, Inspiration & Service

TRIO students and faculty smiling

Georgian Court celebrated TRIO Week—a week of advocacy, inspiration, and service—to raise awareness about the importance of educational equity and access, celebrate student successes, and highlight the achievements of TRIO programs at GCU and around the United States.

“TRIO Week gave students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to focus attention on the importance of college access and success,” says Danielle Staten Lamb, director of TRIO-Student Support Services (SSS). “It was great to see the GCU community come together to support and celebrate the achievements of our students, participate in advocacy efforts, and give back to the community. My hope is for everyone to obtain a greater understanding of how lives can change through the work of TRIO programs.”

The TRIO events, held last week, were celebrated in conjunction with National TRIO Day on Saturday. TRIO-SSS is a federal program that addresses the social, economic, and cultural barriers to higher education. The program provides tutoring, financial literacy training, study skills workshops, advocacy, mentoring, coaching, academic and graduate school counseling, and financial assistance.

TRIO Advocacy Campaign

TRIO Week kicked off with a letter-writing advocacy campaign during Open House at the TRIO office, located on the second floor of the Casino. Students signed advocacy letters urging Congress to continue strong financial support for TRIO programs, as federal funding is in jeopardy.

Congress’ bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, known as the PROSPER Act, proposes significant budget cuts to TRIO programs and the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request proposes a $7.1 billion cut in funding to the U.S. Department of Education, including a plan to consolidate TRIO programs into a state formula grant program.

As the students signed the advocacy letters, they spoke of the importance of GCU’s TRIO-SSS program. “There’s always a mentor here for you,” says Angeline Miller, an exercise science major graduating in May 2019. “Not only for school work or for financial problems, but also just to talk. They treat you like family. I see TRIO as a family. I come here all the time. They’re always willing to help.”

TRIO Support

Arianna Cabezas, a nursing major graduating in Fall 2020, says: “TRIO is important to me because it is a place where I can come and get tutoring for nursing. It is a place where I can come for financial help. They guide me with anything financially related, which is very important to me because I wouldn’t be able to finish school unless I had the financial guidance that TRIO is able to provide.”

“TRIO helps me set goals for every semester,” says Blanca Cajas, a nursing major graduating in Fall 2020. “I think that’s important as a nurse to be able to have goals, everyday goals, and TRIO helps me with that and also financial issues I might have. I think they’re just great.”

“Without TRIO, I wouldn’t get the support or help that I need,” says Cynthia Graca, a biology major, who will graduate in 2019.

 Latina Women Speak

On Thursday, TRIO, in partnership with GCU’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO), hosted Latina Women Speak, a panel discussion in the Little Theatre. In the inspirational discussion, three local women leaders spoke about their experiences as Latina women in college, in their careers, and in their personal lives.They emphasized the opportunities and exciting possibilities that were provided to them through student support programs and mentors and offered advice to GCU’s students.

“It doesn’t matter if you are the first or if you are the only one of the few, surround yourself with positive people who will continue to encourage you,” said Nicole Pulliam, Ph.D., assistant professor of counseling at Monmouth University. She served as an advisor to the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program at Monmouth and is an alumna of the program at Ramapo College. “All it took for me was for my high school guidance counselor to say, ‘Why aren’t you applying to colleges?’ That’s all I needed to hear.”

“Don’t ask ‘What do I want to be when I grow up? Ask ‘How do I want to live my life?’ If you focus on how you want to live your life, you will end up doing the things that you love,” advised Luz Echevarria, a mentor and life coach who created a “life of unlimited possibilities” for herself by following her entrepreneurial spirit. She graduated from William Paterson University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Jocelin Jimenez was a member of the TRIO-Ronald E. McNair achievement program and LASO at Rider University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish in 2013. She works as a care manager for Ocean Partnership for Children in Toms River. She urged students to take this time in college to get to know themselves. “Don’t be afraid to push your limits. Go for it! This is your time to shine. Try everything!”

TRIO held a Meet and Greet Fund-Raiser with the GCU chapter of the Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society on Wednesday and a Day of Service on Friday, in which students collected nonperishable food, clothing, and monetary donations for the TRIO-SSS programs at Universidad Adventista de las Antillas in Puerto Rico. The donation drive will continue throughout the semester.

To view photos from the event, visit our TRIO Week 2018 photo album.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.