By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

During the Spring 2015 semester, 27-year-old Daniella Wallace entered KCC as a single parent and sought guidance through the Single Parents and Displaced Homemakers (SPDH) program. It was through this program that she found out about the TRIO Student Support Services, which offers several campus resources for students who are a first-generation student, come from a low-income background, or have a documented disability.

“I didn’t have a laptop, and [SPDH] suggested TRIO, because TRIO does laptop loans,” Wallace said. “… I was actually waitlisted for TRIO the first time I applied.”

Daniella Wallace is a member and student leader of TRIO SSS. (Photo by Lexus Yamashiro)

Serving only a set group of 206 students for a maximum of four years, Wallace was eventually accepted into TRIO SSS, meeting the eligibility requirements of being a first-generation student and classified as low-income, along with being a U.S. citizen, making KCC her home campus, and being registered as a full-time student. At first, Wallace admitted that in the beginning the free printing that TRIO SSS offers stood out to her the most. However, after getting more involved with the program, she now recognizes that the counselors are more significant to her.

Brandon Chun, the TRIO coordinator and TRIO counselor for fourth-year students, is one counselor who Wallace said has impacted her significantly in terms of helping her get transcripts evaluated and with other academic advising.

“The … mission for TRIO is to have students graduate, or graduate and transfer within four years,” Chun said. “Having [the three TRIO counselors] here to help answer questions for as much time as it takes really benefits our student population.”

Ready to graduate this spring with an Associate in Science in Natural Science and Associate of Arts degree, Wallace reflected on the resources that she has been able to take advantage of through TRIO SSS, which includes free printing, personal connections with counselors, laptop loans, a computer lab, priority registration, financial help, and more. Beyond the academic help, Wallace said that TRIO SSS has helped her socially, providing a fun environment where students can bond and assist each other.

“I started going on the cultural events … and then I met a lot of friends through TRIO,” Wallace said. “It’s … helped me [to] be more encouraged to do stuff in the school. … It helps you not feel like you’re alone on campus.”

Nicholas Bowman wants students to know that TRIO SSS exists on campus and is available for students. (Photo by Lexus Yamashiro)

Nicholas Bowman is also a second-year student like Wallace who got accepted into the TRIO program and is looking to apply and get accepted into KCC’s Radiologic Technology program. Before attending KCC, the 34-year-old worked as a private chef, but unfortunately got into an accident in 2014 at Sunset Beach in Hale‘iwa after a car going 40 mph had t-boned his car while trying to pull out of a parking lot onto Kamehameha highway. This resulted in Bowman having to get both of his hips replaced. Upon starting school, Bowman had challenges getting around the campus due to using crutches as a support for his body.

“I kind of wanted to use all the resources I could get, [and] I really leaned on DSSO,” Bowman said. “And then, I actually found out that with a disability I’m eligible to use TRIO as well, which is just another aid to help us get through the college process.”

Bowman got accepted into TRIO, meeting the requirement of having a documented disability. Like Wallace, Bowman appreciates the resources that TRIO SSS has to offer and uses the personal tutoring sessions to his advantage the most. He added that at some point in time, one student will end up tutoring another if one may have learned a certain subject already to pass knowledge on.

TRIO SSS has even given Bowman a chance to have conversations amongst its members and counselors about any personal or academic issues that come up. He has bonded with many students throughout his time in the TRIO program and said that he recognizes that he, along with the several other TRIO students, are ultimately working toward the common goal of graduating from college.

“I barely graduated high school on the mainland, and so I was really scared to come back just because I had never really challenged myself academically,” Bowman said, “I guess [TRIO has] taught me the value of learning what resources are available to me and how to utilize them.”

Beyond the academic help and resources that TRIO SSS provides, it also allows students to work within the program as a student leader. Wallace currently works this position and focuses her priorities on helping TRIO students through academic tutoring and peer mentoring while also carrying out her office duties. However, she along with two other students will be graduating after this semester, leaving three slots open for students to apply for the position.

Student leaders must have passed Math 100 and English 100 and have at least one letter of recommendation from a professor. Chun said that he preferably would like students who come from a TRIO background to apply for these positions since they will understand the needs of the other students within the program and that they will work as a student leader for at least one year. Students can visit SECE to find out more about becoming a TRIO student leader.

TRIO SSS is looking to offer new students a summer bridge course this year. Incoming college freshmen will have the opportunity to earn college credits in either an English 22 or 100 class for free, which will cover the written communication courses (FW) foundation requirement in order to graduate. The summer bridge course will have a $0 textbook cost, and the off-campus activities that TRIO will host will be covered as well.

“Having it done early opens a lot more doors, and you’ll get your degree faster,” Chun said, “It’s not just a class … and my goal is to have all students have an academic and social experience here.”

For more information about TRIO SSS or becoming a member of TRIO, visit ʻIliahi 113 or call 808-734-9553.