Often, finding a clear description of federal programs can be difficult. Text written in government-speak with confusing guidelines can deter individuals from further pursuing federal assistance.

TriOWhat if a program helps change lives? What if it has the power to transform reality and inspire future educational opportunities? Fortunately, there is such a program at Lourdes College – the TRiO Student Support Services program.

Sponsored by the United States Department of Education and formed in the 1960s, TRiO emerged through a metamorphosis of government programming aimed at supporting education.

Today, the program serves and assists low-income individuals, first-generation college students and those with disabilities so that they may progress from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Simply put, TRiO helps individuals achieve their dream of earning a degree – a degree that they might not have had the opportunity to pursue otherwise.

TRiO services first became available to Lourdes College students in 1997, under the guidance of Kimberly Grieve, PhD, Associate Vice President for Student Services. Funded entirely through renewable grants, TRiO has left a lasting legacy at Lourdes and in the Northwest Ohio region.

Since then, nearly 700 individuals have participated in the program, many of whom went on to earn their degree. Yet, students take away much more than a degree from TRiO. Through opportunities provided by the program, Lourdes students are:

Traveling the world

TRiOEngland, Japan, Korea and Spain. This is not the travel schedule of a wealthy socialite or a prominent politician. Rather, these are the countries that Lourdes students have visited through participation in the TRiO program.

Study abroad opportunities through the International Leadership Program allowed TRiO students Diana Croley (Nursing), Andrea Fletcher (Nursing), Jeannine Harding (Nursing) and Michelle Perkins (Business Administration) to spend time at the University of Liverpool in England.

TRiO students have also participated in the Camp Adventure™ program. Jennifer Globig ('09, BA, Education) taught at a youth camp in Taegu, South Korea, Jackie Zervos (senior, Education) taught in Rota, Spain and Jennifer Aiken (junior, Nursing) taught in Japan.

Giving back

TRiO students are also sharing their good fortune with others. Each fall, TRiO hosts a blood drive for the Red Cross. Students Jamar Murchison (senior, Management and Marketing) and Sarah Cooper (senior, Nursing) assisted TRiO in collecting 28 pints of blood during this year's drive.

The 2009 Winter Special Olympics got a boost from Lourdes TRiO students when 16 hand-knitted scarves were donated to Special Olympic athletes.

In fall 2008, 30 students and staff participated as volunteers for NBC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Students overcame long work days riddled with rain and mud in order to build a new home for a local Toledo family.

Students ended their year by spending the day at Madonna Homes planting flowers as part of their annual student retreat.

Habitat for Humanity, the Homeless Census, the H.O.P.E. Rape Crisis Center and the Padua Center also receive volunteer support throughout the year from Lourdes TRiO students.

Finding success

Diane Marx ('00, BA, Social Work) is Owner and President of Homewatch CareGivers of NW Ohio. Sean Smith ('07, BS, Accounting & Finance) is currently serving as the Accounts Payable Entitlements Branch Ombudsman for the United States Air Force.

Priscilla MacDonald ('04, BA, History) went on to earn her Master of Arts from the University of Toledo and is now a faculty member with the University of Phoenix. She also recently published her first book The Pueblos Revolt and Revitalization.