The Oregon TRIO Association (OTA) recently selected TRIO-SSS student Whillamina Wise of Southern Oregon University as its 2022 OTA Fellow. She participated in the Council for Opportunity in Education Policy Seminar as Oregon’s representative last week in Washington, D.C.
The OTA Fellow’s main responsibility is to encourage funding for TRIO and hear stories of how the federal Student Support Services (SSS) program has helped first-generation, low-income and other underrepresented students around the country. Whillamina and the student representatives of other states help the organization to support students in the program nationwide.
“They’ve supported me so much throughout my education, and I’m just happy to be representing them,” Whillamina said in an interview with SOU News.
TRIO is a federally funded organization that helps disadvantaged students progress through the academic pipeline from middle school through graduate school. Student Support Services is one of eight sections of the TRIO program.
The TRIO-SSS program at SOU is limited to 190 students per academic year and has served more than 1,500 since 1994. The free program offers services including academic advising, tutoring, personal education plans, career guidance, preparation for graduate programs and financial aid information.
There are 23 colleges and universities in Oregon that offer TRIO-SSS.
Whillamina is majoring in International Studies and Spanish at SOU, and participates in the university’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program – another of the federal TRIO program’s eight sections. She plans to enter a master’s degree or doctoral program in her field next year.
Whillamina is passionate about uplifting underrepresented communities, and one of her goals with TRIO-SSS is to help first-generation students in developing their academic careers and increasing diversity across the board. The International Studies major at SOU has helped her work as the OTA Fellow, in finding new ways to improve integration and to diversify academia.
Those who may be eligible for support from TRIO-SSS are encouraged to learn more about the program.
Story by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer