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TRIO Student Support Services

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TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) is:

A federally funded, student-oriented program that offers supportive services to help its participants achieve success.

The services provided through TRIO are designed to help participants maximize their effectiveness as students and make informed decisions which will lead to a successful graduation and/or transfer. Each TRIO participant is assigned an academic coach (advisor) who offers students the kind of support necessary to take them from enrollment through graduation/transfer. Coaches are dedicated to providing individualized assistance that will enhance the academic, professional, and personal potential of the students who participate in the program.

TRIO Conference:

The TRIO conference held at the beginning of each semester and is required for TRIO participants to attend. This allows students to meet with other TRIO participants and gain skills to use throughout their college career. Students also complete their required workshops each semester by attending the conference.

Our TRIO program helps students to develop college transitioning, self-actualization, and student empowerment skills by utilizing research. The panel discussions described in Stephens, et al. (2014) is a component of our proposed TRIO Conference. The panel consists of a diverse group of second year TRIO students who want to share their experiences with first year SSS students. This process not only assists first year TRIO students in developing key non-cognitive skills, but also helps second year students by allowing them the opportunity to reflect upon their time with TRIO and the experiences and knowledge they have gained. 
The development of certain non-cognitive skills are essential to the development of successful students and is therefore one of the goals of our TRIO program. Examples of such skills include the development of realistic academic, life, and career expectations, emotional and social skills, effective study habits, and a sense of belonging on a campus by engaging with the campus community


“TRIO helped me to achieve my dream of bigger and better things, like transferring to a four year college.”  -Kate Whitehouse, TRIO Student since 2014

Benefits of TRIO Student Support Services:

  • Academic advising, transfer advising, and encouragement to help you achieve your educational goals
  • A wide variety of success skills workshops available both online and in the classroom
  • Monitoring of your Academic Progress and development of a plan for academic success
  • Free individualized tutoring in Math, English, and Science/ Study Group opportunities
  • Laptop, Tablet, and iPad Lending
  • Graphing Calculator Lending
  • Textbook Lending Program
  • Confidentiality of personal information.
  • Referrals to other sources of assistance, as appropriate
  • Grant Aid Scholarships
  • Cultural events/ special topic workshops
  • Career advising is available
  • Assistance with College Applications and Financial Aid, including FAFSA
  • Scholarship and Admission Essay Assistance
  • Transfer transition services including transfer advising and assistance
  • Visits to Area Universities

Grant Aid Scholarships:

Each year, 10 to 15 Program participants will receive a $610.00 Grand Aid Scholarship.

(Funding provided by the US Department of Education)


Must meet one of the following criteria:

1. First generation college student (meaning neither parent has a Bachelor's degree)

2. Low Income-Eligible for Financial Aid

3. Student with a disability

To determine eligibility status, please submit an application.

Participation Requirements:

  • Meet with your TRIO advisor at least three times per semester for: Career exploration, Transfer advisement, Financial Aid advisement, and personal advisement.

  • Consult with your TRIO advisor prior to registration, schedule changes, and to review mid-term evaluations.
  • Attend the TRIO Conference and complete at least Two Workshops per semester, one of which must be a Financial Literacy workshop.
  • Consult with your TRIO advisor if you are experiencing problems with school, home, or work, that affect you academic performance.
  • Attend all scheduled appointments and respond to phone calls and correspondence. If you are unable to attend your appointment, please contact the TRIO office and reschedule your missed appointment.
  • Regular class attendance, completion of assignments, and utilization of the Learning Assistance Center (LAC).

TRIO Cares Days:

TRIO has implemented a TRIO Cares Day, where students are invited to participate in various community events. The following volunteer opportunities will be offered throughout the Fall 2015 semester, Fiesta Days in September, Granny Rose in October, Polo Lifeline Food Pantry Turkey Handout in November, and the Whiteside County Senior Center in December for their Santa’s Workshop event. Students will be given TRIO shirts to wear to these events. Stop by the TRIO office to find out more about each event.

Workshops Offered:

All Workshops can be accessed on the TRIO Moodle page. Talk with your TRIO advisor to learn how you can access these valuable workshops.

  • Financial Literacy
  • Carrer Exploration
  • Transfer Tips
  • Scholarship Opportunities
  • Time Management
  • Balancing Your Life
  • Learing Styles
  • Writing Tips
  • Grade Recovery
  • Study Skills for Math and Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Test Taking
  • Stress Relief
  • And More!

"TRIO provided me assistance with fulfilling my volunteer hours for my scholarship." -Dakota Geesey, TRIO student since 2013


TRIO Student Support Services Staff:

Dr. Lori A Cortez
Program Director
E-mail: lori.a.cortez@svcc.eduLori

Lori is a community college graduate and holds an Associate Degree in Liberal Studies, Bachelor and Master Degrees in History, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. The focus of her dissertation was on the barriers that nontraditional students face at rural community colleges and how to alleviate those barriers to make education more accessible and possible. Currently, Lori works as the Director of the TRIO Student Support Services at Sauk Valley Community College where she aims to improve college access and affordability for over 200 Sauk students.

Tedra S. Mewhirter
Transfer Advisor

Tedra is a SVCC, TRIO, & PTK Alumni. She holds an Associate in Science Degree, Bachelor in Psychology, and a Master Degree in Organization Leadership. She has worked with the Single Parent Committee for the past five years and is a mother of two daughters who currently attend Sterling High School. As a former mental health professional at Sinnissippi Centers Tedra is equipped to discuss strategies for empowerment and guide students to the resources they need to be successful. Tedra is a Sterling native and is familiar with the barriers that Program students often have to overcome. She created and advises the Social Justice Organization on campus to provide opportunities for TRIO students to be engaged and conscientious leaders. As the Transfer and Program advisor she has over six years of experience in guiding students towards academic and transfer success.


Joe Bright
Tutoring and Career Services Advisor

Joe Bright was a first generation college student who graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois in 2013. After obtaining a degree he started working for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in high schools throughout the Sauk Valley Area. Now Joe works at SVCC in the TRIO program and is excited to continue assisting area students.

Kari WhittenbergKari
TRIO SSS Program Assistant

Kari is a 2013 Sauk Valley Community College graduate who holds a Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems. Shortly after graduation, Kari became employed with SVCC as Administrative Assistant to the TRIO Student Support Services Program. Her experiences as a nontraditional, first generation student drives her desire to assist other students who are in similar situations.

Contact Information:

TRIO Student Support Services Office is located in room 1D05
Phone: 815.835.6268 
TDD: 815.835.6206

SVCC provides equal opportunity and affirmative action in education and employment for all qualified persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, marital status, disability, military status, or unfavorable discharge from military service.

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