WCC’s TRiO program provides free resources to help students thrive in their college careers.
Its motto is T.H.E. or TRiO Helps Everybody. While the program is geared towards first generation, low income and/or disabled students, it never turns a student away.
“Everything is free,” said director Roy Inouye, also known as Uncle Roy. “We are not only for Native Hawaiians. We are not only for disabled students. Everybody needs to apply for scholarships since you can get up to $23,000 for free. Neva eva have to pay back …”
Besides helping students apply for scholarships and financial aid, TRiO provides students with a place to study throughout the semester as well as free printing, tutoring, lunch, snacks, VITA Tax Service Center, and academic advising with early registration. Through these services, the program aims to increase student retention, graduation and transfer rates.
“To stay in school and graduate ready to transfer …” is what Uncle Roy said are the goals. He also strives to create a safe and supportive atmosphere that students can call a home base on campus.
Academic support services
Need a space to study? TRiO, which is located in Hale Kako’o, has a variety of places to study–indoors or outdoors, quiet or loud.
TRiO also offers academic advising to help students find the classes that fit their needs and that prepare them for graduation. Students also receive VIP registration, which means they choose their classes before regular registration.
Once the semester is underway, students can take advantage of the free tutoring, which can be done individually or in small groups for various courses. Students are assigned tutors based on their needs.
“The tutoring service definitely helped me understand the lessons we are going over in class,” Natasha Gourlay said.
Deja Wooden said she goes to TRiO to print her papers for free. Students can print at TRiO in black and white or color at no charge.
During finals week, the center is open 24 hours a day and feeds students three meals a day and provides them a place to rest their eyes. Students are even able to shower on campus.
As students near graduation, TRiO works with students to help them understand how to transfer to a four-year college or university.
Outside of finals week, TRiO serves lunch everyday on the counter near the back doors around 12:30 p.m. People also often drop off snacks and goodies for others to enjoy throughout the day.
Financial support services
Applying for scholarships and filling out the financial aid application can be challenging, and so TRiO offers various workshops to assist students through the process.
FREE Money Fridays are workshops that help students find all the scholarships they might be eligible for. In October and November, TRiO offers scholarship workshops to help students apply for scholarships that are due in early spring. On FAFSA Night, which is held the first day that the federal financial aid application is available, students can ask questions while filling the application out.
Tax season can be another challenging time of year, but TRiO offers a service that helps students with filing their federal and state taxes. The center also uses a tool called CashCourse to help students understand how to be financially literate.
WCC is not the only campus in the University of Hawai‘i system with a TRiO program. Kapi‘olani Community College, Honolulu Community College, Hawai‘i Community College, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo also have TRiO, but Uncle Roy said, “They are not the same as WCC campus.”
To maintain the stability of the program, Uncle Roy and his team engage in campus outreach.
“Our biggest thing is just word of mouth,” he said. “We do class visits to help recruit. If students are satisfied and happy, they tell everyone else to come.”
You can find the TRiO program in Hale Kako’o at the front of campus. It is open year-round Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To apply to be a TRiO peer tutor, contact Uncle Roy or stop by TRiO for more information.
by McKenna Chang, Kolby Kirby and Jaylyn Reyes, Special to Ka ‘Ohana