When Mario Morejon started at North Campus, he struggled.
Then he discovered TRIO, a grant funded program, aimed at helping first generation and economically disadvantaged students assimilate to college life.
By the time Morejon graduated from Miami Dade College in 2013, he had earned a full scholarship to Tuskegee University, a historically black university in Alabama.
Today, Morejon, 25, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee. He currently works as an engineer for Florida Power & Light.
He credits TRIO for setting him on the right path.
“The program has opened doors for me which has led me to where I am today,” Morejon said. “At one point before joining the program, I would go around Miami Dade College North Campus and look for people who were studying some math notes and just go up to them, start a conversation, and see if they wanted me to go over some math lessons. Through TRIO I was able to make an impact because now instead of looking for people that wanted to be helped, now the people that want help would come to me, or at least to the TRIO office looking for someone to help them. Over time I was able to share my experience with colleagues, as well as gain insight from them.”
The TRIO program at MDC serves 300 students at the North and Homestead campuses and the Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center. In addition, the Educational Opportunity Center, a branch of the TRIO program, serves about 1,000 students each year at the InterAmerican Campus.
The foundation of the program is to provide tutoring for math and science classes like MAT1033, STA2023, and MAC1105. The tutors aim to help students succeed in their college prep courses. Science tutoring focuses on anatomy and physiology as most of the members of TRIO are in the health field.
TRIO provides peer mentors and advisors. They also facilitate workshops on financial literacy, advocacy and financial aid. Most of the tutors have been part of the program or are current members.
“Over the years TRIO programs have morphed into a stronger academic component where academics is at the forefront of the programs,” said Carlton Daley, director of TRIO Student Support Services at North Campus. “The program lets us be intrusive and be one-on-one and up-to-date with the students’ life. Since the program is a lot smaller it allows us to see them every other day.”
The program’s staff helps participants with class registration. Professors provide progress reports to make sure members are staying on track with their classes. Regular open discussions focus on College success. At the end of summer, participants go on a college tour to get a better idea of the academic requirements and diversity at area colleges.
“What makes our program very different from the other TRIO programs is [that here our students are] composed of mostly immigrants compared to the other national TRIO programs,” Daley said. “We have to make sure that our students are staying on track.”
TRIO was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s Great Society and Higher Education Act. The intent was to provide opportunities primarily for African American college students living in the South. The program is called TRIO because it started with three programs – Upper Bound that works at the high school level, Student Support Services that works with college students and Indicational Talent Search for middle school students.
“It’s such a rewarding process, just seeing how they are doing and growing to leave success stories about their time here,” said Alleyne-McMayo, the program’s academic advisor. “We are preparing them for the world.”
To join, students must visit the TRIO Student Support Services program at their campus to fill out an application. For more information about the program call (305) 237-1333 at North Campus or the Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center or (305) 237-5135 at the Homestead Campus.