WMU News

Three's a charm, say organizers of WMU's TRIO Day celebration

Feb. 10, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Since the mid-1960s, the U.S. government and institutions like Western Michigan University have been teaming up to provide educational opportunity programs that help students succeed in college.

Those programs, collectively known as TRIO programs, will be spotlighted Feb. 21 at WMU during a TRIO Day 2000 celebration called "TRIO--Making a Difference in Southwestern Michigan." The University is sponsoring the event in collaboration with Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich., and Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Mich.

WMU launched TRIO Day in 1999 and will invite nearly 100 students and community members this year. The event will feature a luncheon, a keynote address and an awards presentation starting at 11:30 a.m. in the Bernhard Center. This portion of the celebration is expected to draw several political officials from Michigan, including Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Fred Upton or their representatives.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Roger Pulliam, assistant vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. Pulliam received a bachelor of science degree in social science from WMU in 1966, a master of arts degree in teaching the culturally deprived from WMU in 1968 and a doctor of philosophy degree in education administration from the University of Michigan in 1973.

The WMU-affiliated TRIO students who will be honored are:

Elizabeth Aslakson of Muskegon, Mich., a WMU senior majoring in computer science. She'll be honored as the Student Support Program Student of the Year. Aslason has worked with the Student Support Program for three years as a mentor.

Susan Leversee of Portage, Mich., a WMU junior majoring in business management. She's the Student Support Program Essay Contest Winner for 2000. Leversee has been an active member of the Student Support Program for three years.

Floyd Reed, a junior at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo. He's won the Upward Bound TRIO Essay Contest for 2000. Reed is in his first year with Upward Bound.

Marquita Taylor, a junior at Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo. She's the Upward Bound Student of the Year. Taylor has participated in Upward Bound for the past three years and maintains a 3.0 grade point average in addition to being an active community volunteer.

Jennifer Zordan, a 1997 WMU graduate who received a bachelor of science degree in community health education. She's the Student Support Program 1999-2000 Alumni of the Year. Zordan is a health educator with the Berrien County (Mich.) Health Department and for two years served as the Student Support Program's administrative assistant.

"TRIO dates back to 1965 when Congress funded Upward Bound and two other educational opportunity programs as a way of helping students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education," says Gregory Moorehead, associate director of WMU's Division of Minority Affairs and coordinator of the division's TRIO programs.

Four more programs were added over the years, Moorehead explains, but all seven are still known by their original name--TRIO. The federal government funds various colleges and universities to provide the programs in their respective areas.

"These aren't raced-based programs," Moorhead says. "The only requirement is that more than two-thirds of the students in these programs come from low-income families, where neither parent graduated from college.

"These programs have helped literally hundreds of thousands of students. That's why we'll be celebrating TRIO Day with high schools, public agencies and universities across the country."

WMU's Division of Minority Affairs offers three TRIO programs, Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science, which support ninth through 12th grade high school students, and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholars Program, which supports undergraduate students at WMU who want to pursue graduate degrees.

In addition, the University's Academic Skills Center offers the Student Support Program, which also is for WMU undergraduates.

"Our TRIO offerings amount to a three-tier series of programs," Moorehead says. "First, we help high school students prepare for college. Then we support them while they're in college to make sure they graduate. Finally," he says, "we provide the McNair program for successful undergraduates who want to go on to graduate school at WMU or another U.S. institution.

"I guess you could say that three's a charm when it comes to TRIO programs at WMU."

The remaining three TRIO programs are Veterans Upward Bound; Educational Talent Search, which provides early intervention services for sixth through 12th grade students and is offered by Southwestern Michigan College; and Educational Opportunities Centers, which helps displaced or underemployed workers choose a college and suitable financial aid program and is offered by Lake Michigan College. Both colleges also offer Upward Bound and the Student Support Program.

The Upward Bound program prepares high school students for higher education and is funded at more than 700 institutions. WMU's program, founded in 1966, is one of the oldest in the nation. The University currently has agreements to provide it at Benton Harbor, Comstock, Covert, Kalamazoo Central, Loy Norrix and Muskegon Heights high schools.

The Upward Bound Math/Science program was established by Congress in 1990 to strengthen high school students' math and science skills. WMU began offering the program in 1999, joining only about 80 other institutions. This educational opportunity is designed for promising math and/or science students. WMU has agreements to provide the program at Benton Harbor, Covert and Kalamazoo Central high schools; Grand Rapids Creston and Grand Rapids Union high schools; Muskegon Heights High School; and Pontiac, Inkster and Oak Park high schools in the Detroit area.

Both Upward Bound programs provide services throughout the academic year directly to high school students in their home districts. These services include tutoring; academic advising; and workshops on financial aid, college admissions, and preparing for the MEAP, ACT or SAT.

In addition, both programs offer a six-week living/learning experience at WMU in the summer, where participants can attend classes and seminars on topics ranging from test-taking strategies, computer usage and career exploration for Upward Bound students to biomedical technology, computer-aided engineering, and probability and statistics for Upward Bound Math/Science students. Those in the latter program also have the chance to work on a research project with a faculty mentor from WMU.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

Media Advisory: To arrange an interview with a student attending TRIO Day 2000 or the day's keynote speaker, contact Gregory Moorehead in the Division of Minority Affairs at (616) 387-4405.

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