Since its inception in 1983, Plymouth State University’s TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program has helped hundreds of students find their footings on campus. In the case of Myles Gomes-Boisvert ’20 and Maya Gomes-Van Pelt ’24, TRIO has been a true family affair.
Maya was encouraged by the experience of Myles, a recent graduate, who was fully immersed in the program during his four years at PSU. “At first, I chose to participate in TRIO because I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” says Maya. “It seemed like he was headed down a good path with the program and I was interested. After joining it, I got to go down my own path and figure things out for myself. What I found was that TRIO was a community.”
More than half of all Plymouth State students are either first generation, low income, or have a disability. This “trio” comprises the three key factors in determining eligibility for TRIO, a federally funded student support service and the primary component of the University’s Plymouth Academic Support Services (PASS) program. Despite the challenges faced by many students, an impressive graduation rate provides compelling evidence of the program’s effectiveness.
“TRIO teaches students how to navigate the university system,” says Patti May, who has directed PASS since 2014. “Like me, if your parents didn’t go to college, you might not know what a registrar’s office is. We provide hands-on, holistic support to help these students succeed. It’s more than just telling them to go to the Financial Aid Office—it’s walking them there and personally introducing them to a counselor who can help.”
TRIO supports all aspects of the student experience, from developing social skills to financial literacy and cultural awareness. A major contributing factor to TRIO’s success is its mentorship program. TRIO links first-year students with more experienced peers who can relate to their concerns, help them overcome challenges, and ultimately lead them to success.
After attending UNH Upward Bound, a federally funded college preparatory TRIO program, Myles joined PSU’s TRIO as a first-year student and became a mentor in his second year. He advanced with the program in his junior and senior years as an undergraduate fellow by helping design and plan the mentor training, including scheduling weekly activities for group meetings. He continued his association during summer breaks by working as a counselor for the UNH program from which he hailed.
Myles took his already close ties to the program to the ultimate level through marriage to a fellow PSU TRIO mentor. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies earlier this year, he is now working at Bellavance Beverage Company in Hooksett, NH, with plans to enter the Air Force in January 2021.
Like her brother, Maya also came to Plymouth State after completing the UNH Upward Bound Program. The criminal justice major views TRIO as a resource that goes far beyond academics.
“If you feel as though you have nobody there for you on a friendship level or you just need some help, there will always be somebody there for you in TRIO, no questions asked!” she says. “They help find good opportunities and do what is best for you. I am extremely grateful and recommend the program to others.”