2020 was a challenging year, to say the least. The uncertainties of the pandemic left many with anxiety and deep concerns about what the future held for the nation.
2020 was a challenging year, to say the least. The uncertainties of the pandemic left many with anxiety and deep concerns about what the future held for the nation. Stay at-home orders, and the fear of transmitting a deadly virus left some Americans feeling isolated, stressed, depressed and directionless. Accustomed to daily contact with students and weekly events, TRIO staff members scrambled for solutions to navigate the new world that seemingly changed overnight without much warning. In an effort to stay connected to students, the staff devised communication strategies that would not only keep students in the loop, but also alleviate their worries about online learning, the shutdown of public schools, food insecurities, access to resources, job security and so much more.
To help lighten the load, TRIO staff implemented virtual workshops and meetings into its programming and also created the TRIO Cyber Café’, which began as a weekly meeting held just so students could “see” and speak with staff. To raise the level of morale among students and solidify familial bonds that were already established, TRIO continued to support students virtually with its peer mentoring program, P.A.L.S and service committee, TSC. TRIO also instituted Wellness Wednesdays to help students and families learn skills and habits promote mental and emotional well-being. One student shared, “One of my favorite activities is meditation held during Wellness Wednesdays. COVID has changed my life and increased my stress levels, but those 30 minutes of meditation have helped me throughout my day.”. These virtual events allowed the traditions of TRIO to be carried out as students transitioned into a new way of life and learning.
To meet the academic needs of TRIO students, tutoring is still offered, and students continue to thrive in their courses as many have finally adjusted to the changes in instructional methods. Staff remains available for advising, and TRIO has maintained relationships with admissions representatives from partnering institutions to fulfill the needs of its transfer students. Every month, Transfer Academy is held, and a representative from a selected institution hosts an information session, so that students can gather information, ask questions and eventually apply. Since the COVID crisis, several TRIO students have gone on to transfer to four-year institutions. Of this, the TRIO family is proud!
Even in the midst of a public health crisis, TRIO continues to carry out the mission of helping those in need. The staff continues to work diligently to fill orders for all JCC students who need essential items from the Elevation Market and has even formed a partnership with Food Lion for donations. In fact, during the holidays, TRIO students spearheaded two service projects through which two families were adopted for Thanksgiving, and winter essentials were collected for those in need.
Until the world returns to some sense of normalcy, the staff of JCC TRIO will continue to provide quality and meaningful services to program participants. Keeping students fully engaged, connected and on the pathway to student success and graduation/transfer will remain the priority. For more information about TRIO, please contact Dr. Felita Carr, Director at 919-209-2075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.