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Northeast awarded federal grant to assist students on their educational journey

Northeast awarded federal grant to assist students on their educational journey

NORFOLK, Neb. - The U.S. Department of Education has renewed a five-year federal grant to Northeast Community College so it can continue to provide individualized support and assistance to students who may have faced challenges in completing their education.

The TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant consists of $261,000 per year, with the total five-year amount projected at more than $1.3 million. Northeast was first awarded the grant in 2015. The College serves 140 students each year who meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the program.

President Leah Barrett said she is pleased the grant has been renewed at Northeast.

“This is a testament to the work of our TRIO staff with the many students who have been enrolled in the program over the past five-years,” Barrett said. “It’s an excellent program that helps students to persist to completion of an associate’s degree and their efforts to transfer and earn a four-year degree.”

The program assists income-eligible individuals, first-generation college students (students who come from families where neither parent/guardian earned a four-year degree), and those with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline to post-baccalaureate programs.

The program offers individual support, advising and a referral process to ensure participants take full advantage of the services and activities that are structured around academic support. This includes a College Readiness Boot Camp over the summer months that focuses on English and mathematics; tutoring and supplemental instruction; academic transfer assistance and visits to four-year colleges; access to a free laptop or iPad; and a structured first-year (college) experience course.

The 140 students enrolled in the program annually have access to all of the services and support throughout their entire tenure at Northeast. On average, two-thirds of the TRIO students supported each year are of both income-eligible and first-generation scholars, while the remainder meet one or more of the eligibility requirements.

Participants in the program also have the opportunity to meet with their TRIO/SSS advisor once a month and are encouraged to participate in one of the various program activities each month.

In addition to the academic component, the TRIO program provides students with personal support, ranging from a financial literacy education workshop and assistance completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application to cultural field trips and the TRIO Club.

“As students navigate the demands of college and gain more independence with the responsibility of college life, they are offered personal and academic support,” said Josh Becker, director of TRIO at Northeast. “Our TRIO staff assists students in helping them meet college requirements as well as provide support to motivate these individuals toward the successful completion of their post-secondary education. We pride ourselves in being an enthusiastic supporter and cheerleader for each of our students during their time with us.”

In addition to Becker, Matthew Sazama, Brandi Rossman, and Debbie Taylor are members of the TRIO SSS staff.

Students said the program has assisted them greatly.

“TRIO at Northeast has provided me with opportunities of growth both personally and professionally,” said Carlos Villarreal II, of Houston, Tex., president of Student Leadership Association. “The support system has helped me step out of my comfort zone, and has played a key role in furthering my education and career path to be a professional speaker.”

Olyvia Miettinen, of Grand Island, described TRIO staff as incredible.

“Knowing that I always have someone who truly believes in me, and consistently goes above and beyond to support me through my academic journey is invaluable.”

Becker said the benefits that come from the program stay with Northeast graduates after they leave the institution.

“TRIO Alumni at Northeast have gone on to do amazing work in their respective fields, and continue to further their post-secondary education at many different four-year colleges and universities. TRIO staff consider ourselves fortunate to have been a small part of so many different students’ success.”

Applications for the TRIO/SSS program may be found on the Northeast website at They may also be picked up in person at the College Welcome Center on the Norfolk campus. Referrals for students interested in or whom could benefit from this unique program may be made to Becker at (402) 844-7736 or by email at  




PHOTO ID: Northeast Community College TRIO staff members (from left) Debbie Taylor, Josh Becker, Brandi Rossman, and Matthew Sazama.