On the north side of the campus of Florida A&M University sits a long metal building that’s surrounded by many other buildings. It may not look like much on the outside, but this building is home to the TRiO program, which plays an important role in the community.
The TRiO program is not one, but four different programs designed to help people complete their higher education goals. Some of the programs include student support services, the educational opportunity center, and the regional institute for math and science. They are all federally funded.
“The general purpose of the TRiO program is to provide services to first generation, low-income individuals.” Jonvay Felix director of the TRiO program, said.
Felix is also the director of the student support services, which helps students like Ronald Dolce get into college and find the right career for them.
Dolce is an occupational therapy student who has been with the TRiO program since he first came to FAMU. He is now working on getting his master’s at FAMU.
“In high school I had a 3.0 GPA and in college I graduated from undergrad with a 3.8 GPA and I’m getting my master’s now. I thank TRiO for a lot of that,” Dolce said. “There is a lot of benefits from being here like lab time and free printing and if you’re good and do your hours you get a stipend at the end of the year.”
The student services program goes off campus by recruiting qualified high school students to join the program and help them get through college. The program requires students to complete a minimum of 10 hours a week in the lab and they offer a stipend for students who complete all their hours at the end of the semester. They also offer free tutoring for students that may need it.
“We have a lot of resources in regards to free tutoring, we have our own computer lab that doesn’t require any paper and we have a small grant aid that we give in the fall and spring semester for students who are freshmen,” Felix said.
Louis Dilbert, the director of the Educational Opportunity Center in TRiO, helps adults in the community to get back in school.
“We help push them into post secondary education so that they can better their skills and hopefully improve their income,” Dilbert said. “And it doesn’t have to be a college or university, it could also be a trade school or anything after high school.”
The program helps a range of adults in the Big Bend, from the ones who never finished college to the ones who never finished high school; it also works with veterans.
"We serve veterans who are coming off of military services who would like to use their GI bill benefits and we connect them to whatever institution that they are trying to go to and not just FAMU,” Dilbert said.
The EOC program also helps adults without a high school diploma find the right GED course for them and will pay for the GED exam whenever they are ready to take it.
The programs have faculty members that were apart of the TRiO program themselves and focus on building a one on one relationship with the people that serve. And with counselors at the TRiO program students can get the help that they need both in and outside the classroom.
“It’s a really good program because they really care and they’re really here to help you,” Dolce said, “I wouldn’t be the student that I am without TRiO, to be honest.”