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ISU’s TRiO Program Has Provided 50 Years of Student Support

February 23, 2015
ISU Marketing and Communications

By Emily Frandsen and Aaron Kirkham, ’15

To say that freshman Austin Richards’ parents are proud of the work he is doing at Idaho State University is an understatement.

“I get a text from my parents every day telling me how proud they are,” Richards, a first-generation college student and nuclear engineering major said.

Richards knew he wanted a career in the sciences after an engineer from the Idaho National Laboratory spoke to his middle school class, but it was a visit from an Idaho State University TRiO Upward Bound Math Science advisor that sealed the deal.

Through the TRiO Upward Bound Math Science program, first-generation college students like Richards can get the assistance they need to succeed in a college environment. The federally funded program specifically serves high school students from low-income families, and students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree.

In its 50 years at Idaho State University, the TRiO Upward Bound program has provided more than 6,500 students with a support system to help them succeed in a college environment. Through the program, high school students who are potential first-generation college students receive tutoring, field trips and college preparatory classes. Each summer, they receive a true college experience when they stay on the ISU campus for seven weeks, taking classes and participating in campus activities. Classes offered include dual enrollment courses, so students can get a head-start on their college careers.

The program has seen tremendous success. In 2013, 100 percent of Upward Bound Math Science students and 56 percent of Upward Bound seniors were enrolled in postsecondary education. All students enrolled in the programs passed Idaho’s educational standards, and 100 percent of students in the Upward Bound Math Science program and 84 percent of students in the Upward Bound program graduated with dual enrollment courses completed.

The TRiO programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address social and cultural barriers to education in America. In 1965, the TRiO Upward Bound programs were launched across the United States. Idaho State University was one of the originally funded programs, making it one of the oldest TRiO Upward Bound programs in the nation. The ISU Upward Bound/Upward Bound Math Science grants serve 12 high schools in southeastern Idaho: American Falls, Aberdeen, Pocatello, Century, Highland, Sho-Ban, Snake River, Blackfoot, Firth, Shelley, Bonneville and Idaho Falls.

“The TRiO programs at Idaho State University, across Idaho and across the country cater the services needed to each community they serve,” said Sari Bryerly, Upward Bound director.

Richards says he has benefited from the program’s scholarship advice and free tutoring programs. He received help with ACT preparation, and has continued to receive support his first year in college. Richards also was able to do a summer internship in a laboratory while still in high school, which solidified his decision to study nuclear engineering. He appreciates the fact that he came to campus with a support system already in place.

“There is a sign in our TRiO office that a student made years ago, even before my time at ISU,” Byerly said. “It says ‘TRiO touches a few, but reaches many.’ There is nothing more accurate.”


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