Over 60 TNCC Students in TRiO Program Are High Achievers for Fall

Published: January 9, 2009

Sixty-three Thomas Nelson Community College students who are enrolled in the TRiO Program  earned 3.0 or above grade point averages (GPAs) in fall 2008.  Of that figure, 18 students achieved perfect GPAs of 4.0 marking another successful chapter in program’s brief history at TNCC.

Also among the 63 students, 20 had GPAs of 3.5 or greater and 25 earned GPAs ranging from 3.0 to 3.49, according to Virginia Keithley, TNCC’s TRiO director.   Further, 80 percent of fall 2007 students in TRiO at TNCC returned to begin classes in fall 2008.

“We are extremely proud of our students for the strides they make toward academic and personal success in their college careers. Our three-year graduation rate of our original 2005-2006 cohort group had 27 percent to graduate during 2007-2008.  Our federal mandated objective was only 10 percent,” said Keithley.

TRiO is a federal program operating in colleges and universities nationwide that aims to bolster student success and address student retention. Implemented in 2005 at TNCC through an $880,000 U.S. Department of Education grant, along with in-kind contributions from Thomas Nelson, it serves students who are either first-generation, low-income and/or have a documented disability. Eligible students must also be enrolled in a transfer curriculum and have the potential to succeed, graduate and transfer to a four-year institution in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

Keithley said 160 students (the maximum enrollment allowed) are currently in TRiO at TNCC and the students’ fall 2008 academic achievement validates the program’s necessity and effectiveness.

“Our students have continued their positive response to the program validating the fact that the support they receive makes a difference in their lives. I truly believe it’s the ‘personal touch’ of the TRiO staff.  In 2005-2006 (our first year of fully providing TRIO) 80 percent of our students returned to begin classes in fall 2006 exceeding the federal mandate by 20 percent. That same year, we met another federal objective when 60 percent of our students earned cumulative GPAs of 2.5 or greater,” she said.

“We require that our students meet with us at least three times a semester.  We also administer the Myers-Briggs Personality test when they first join the program which allows us to ‘match’ the student’s personality with a compatible career field.  I believe this makes a significant difference in their success,” added Keithley.

In addition to assessments, TRiO provides a mentoring component for new students while offering an array of activities for all enrolled including socials, cultural enrichment trips, an etiquette luncheon, end-of-year awards ceremony and various academic workshops throughout each semester.

“It is a comprehensive program that I believe addresses the emotional and academic challenges they experience during their time here.  We also heavily assist them in the process of transferring to the four-year college/university,” said Keithley.

Having been director of TRiO at Rappahannock Community College for 11 years before coming to Thomas Nelson, Keithley said she is pleased with the program’s progress at Thomas Nelson. The TNCC administration endorsed its implementation and the students, faculty and staff have wholeheartedly participated.

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