GLENVILLE, W.Va. – Glenville State College is among six other higher education institutions in West Virginia that, combined, have received more than $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education to support TRIO’s Support Services Program.
According to a press release, the funding is made available through the Department of Education’s competitive Student Support Services Program.
“This grant means that our SSS program at Glenville State College has five more years of service to low income, first generation, and/or handicapped individuals. It means a quiet refuge, full of fun, help, and understanding where our students say it feels like family and a real place to belong,” said GSC SSS Project Director Jerry Burkhammer.
Student Support Services provides opportunities to assist students with basic college requirements, for academic development and to motivate students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education, the college said. The goal of SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants.
“Especially with first-time freshmen, we try to stay in close contact with them until they feel acclimated and truly a part of the program and the college. We have new member orientations so they can learn about the services we offer and meet their student mentors. And keep in mind that all of the services we offer to our students is free for them,” Burkhammer added.
In its office, which is located in the Health and Physical Education Building on campus, Glenville State’s Student Support Services program offers members access to mentoring and tutoring, priority class registration, a state-of-the-art computer lab, virtual reality tools, a Glowforge Pro laser printer/engraver, textbook loans, free printing, FAFSA assistance and more, the release states. SSS staff members also plan educational and cultural workshops for students. This year, SSS staff members will be recording those workshops to make them more accessible in light of COVID-19.
Jessica Smarr, a junior from Braxton County who is majoring in Multi-categorical Special Education, Elementary Education and Early Education, said she appreciates the support she receives from the SSS program.
“The staff and other members are caring and helpful when it comes to college and life. The staff and members really do want to see everyone succeed and do their best. My favorite part of the program is their quiet computer lab that has become my place for working on homework in between classes (very helpful for me as a commuter). You can even rent textbooks for the semester for free as an added perk!” she said.
Smarr encourages any student who is thinking of applying to be part of GSC’s SSS program to go for it.
“It’s a fun and welcoming atmosphere that can really help you adjust to college and Glenville. It’s a home away from home on campus,” she added.
GSC initially received the Student Support Services TRIO grant in 2005, according to the release. Last year, the persistence rate (the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second year) was 91%, and the retention rate (the percentage of students who return to the same institution for their second year) was 83%. In 2019 Glenville State’s SSS program served 110 first-generation and low income students, 30 low-income only students, 25 first generation only students, 5 disabled students and 2 low-income and disabled students. GSC’s program is funded to serve up to 170 students.
“I want to congratulate our SSS team and all who helped them get the TRIO grant renewed. This is a $1.375 million grant over five years that helps our students and is certainly a phenomenal accomplishment,” said GSC’s Provost Dr. Gary Morris.
WBOY spoke with another GSC student, Arikka Smith, a senior studying for her GRE. She said the program helped her to find a place in the campus community.
“It’s really nice because it gives you a chance, to come in, calm down from everything that’s going on out there. Everywhere else, it’s just these strict rules that you have to follow by,” said Smith.
The program offers everything from off-campus trips to tutoring and mentoring services, all of which Smith said have made a difference as she prepares to head to veterinary school next year.
“It’s family here. We can talk about anything and we can do anything really. We’re constantly going on trips to help us get off of campus. They help us out whenever they can,” said Smith.