One of Northwest’s oldest education assistance programs received a significant financial boost early this month.
Incorporated by Northwest in 1986, TRIO is a federally funded pre-college program that helps students grades nine through 12 finish high school and succeed in college training opportunities.
The program was awarded $40,000 by the U.S. Department of Education as part of a supplemental STEM grant.
With additional funds at the programs disposal, TRIO can add a variety of new STEM activities and initiatives.
One of those is the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies, designed for students interested in engineering.
“It’s a great experience; it’s something that they will not have the opportunity to do in their school,” TRIO Director Cassandra Tavorn said. “We’re allowing them to get an early start on what they need to be doing if they want to go to college.”
The grant will also allow TRIO to bring Project Lead the Way into the fold, one of the U.S.’s leading providers of innovative STEM courses.
Two of TRIO’s main programs include the Upward Bound program and the Upward Bound Math and Science program, the latter established in 1992.
As part of the Math and Science program, students take part in an engaging six-week summer learning experience each year at Northwest.
Last year’s experience featured a trip to South Dakota, allowing students to participate in a mechanical engineering camp.
During the academic year, students come to the campus for Saturday Academies, where they engage in a rigorous 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. day learning everything from college research to test preparation and class studies.
“Northwest is such a wonderful campus, it’s so personable and so engaging so when they get here it’s like ‘oh my, I want to be a part of this,’ so they commit,” Tavorn said.
With more than 80 kids across seven different counties in the program, TRIO is aimed at assisting first-generation high school students with potential for academic success.
“For some of them, believe it or not, it’s a lifesaver,” Tavorn said. “It brings stability and it puts them on a path.”
For former TRIO student and Northwest freshman Payton Schomburg, joining the program was one of the best decisions of her life.
The program provided her opportunities to experience a variety of courses that her high school didn’t offer, many of which have helped her decide her career path.
Beyond the impact TRIO had academically, the experience did more for her confidence than she could have ever imagined.
“This was one of the main reasons why I was able to come out of my shell more in high school,” Schomburg said. ”I was able to express myself through the courses we were taking and I was also able to make connections I did not realize I needed or wanted.”
She said that while there were stressful moments, she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“Those are the times that have helped shaped me into the person I am today,” Schomburg said. “They showed me that other people believe in me too and I am eternally grateful for it.”