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Michael Williams is the new director of TRiO Student Support Services at EOU.
LA GRANDE, Ore. April 6, 2016 – Eastern Oregon University is now part of a national network that is expanding opportunities for academic development, assisting students with a stronger foundation in general education requirements, and keeping them focused on degree completion.
The network is called TRiO and is backed by a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement a new Student Support Services (SSS) program at EOU.
Students who qualify as first-generation and low-income by federal TRiO regulations are eligible to apply, but the program is also meant for students with disabilities, those who are aging out of the foster care system, or are currently or recently homeless.
The university anticipates serving 160 students each year of the grant and is focusing on successful retention, academic achievement – and ultimate graduation – of all participants.
Michael Williams is EOU’s new Student Support Services director. He knows the value of TRiO first-hand, having participated in the program when he was an undergraduate.
“We are much more than a program for helping students who are struggling academically,” Williams said. “We are a program that gives students support in a way that few other programs can, with an approach that takes into account the whole student.”
Before coming to EOU, Williams was a first-year studies instructor and most recently an academic advisor for Arkansas State University’s TRiO Student Support Services program.
“One thing we know is that education is the road to independence, and in that effort, TRiO programs are the most successful federal initiatives to help our students become the best that they can be,” he added.
EOU students who become TRiO participants have access to one-on-one tutoring and secondary advising to help better understand course requirements. Workshops covering topics like study skills and time management are held regularly, along with cultural enrichment activities including free admission to theatre productions.
Equipment from calculators to iPads is available for students to check out and when they are close to finishing their bachelor’s degree, they get tips on preparing for the next step, including organized visits to graduate schools. If a student has a concern, be it academic or personal, staff members are also there to just lend an ear and maintain an open-door policy.
Naomi Tuinstra, academic advising specialist
Naomi Tuinstra is the academic advising specialist for TRiO. She is the primary source of academic, career and personal counseling for participants and also coordinates the tutoring program.
Tuinstra was previously a bilingual financial aid counselor and financial literacy program coordinator at EOU. She has also taught at the high school level in under-served areas of Los Angeles and has expertise working with and advocating for diverse groups of students in various capacities.
Jessalyn Smith, part-time advising specialist
The third member of the TRiO team is Jessalyn Smith, a part-time advising specialist. Smith is an alumna and currently pursuing her master’s of business administration from EOU while also serving as the women’s assistant volleyball coach. Her previous experience includes working as a lab assistant in the university’s learning center.
EOU’s program is currently accepting applications on a rolling basis and students interested in transferring are invited to attend information sessions in April and May.
Williams will be at Mount Hood Community College April 13, Walla Walla Community College April 15 and Chemeketa Community College May 10.
TRiO Student Support Services is located in Loso Hall, Rooms 227-229. All students who believe they may benefit from the program are encouraged to apply. For more information visit www.eou.edu/trio or call 541-962-3063.
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