Trio Program to Aid First-Gen Students

Marshall University Trio Program helps to aid first generation students with academic advising and financial aid.  

First generation students are the first in their family to attend a four-year institution.  

“It is technically the first in your family to go to college, or if either parent did not get a full four-year college degree,” said Nate Hensley, students success specialist.  

Each year, first Generation students are celebrated for one day a week, and the Marshall Trio Program wants to change this to a weeklong celebration.  

“The Trio program was founded by LBJ, (Lyndon B. Johnson) during the Higher Education Policy Act,” said Zachary Jenkins, student success specialist. “There were seven programs created, so it’s a pipeline from middle school through high school to college.” 

The First-Gen Celebration hosts events for students each day.

On Monday, they hosted a banner signing, introducing students to the program in the Memorial Student Center Plaza.

Tuesday was First-Generation Button making, also in the Plaza.

The event on Wednesday Nov. 10 is in the Memorial Student Center lobby from 11a.m.-1 p.m., where they will introduce the new Tri-Alpha Honor Society.

Thursday in the MSC Don Morris Room, they will host First Generation Coffee Talks from 1- 2:30 p.m.  

Trio Programs span across West Virginia, as well as across the nation, to provide support through academic tutoring, personal counseling, mentoring, financial guidance and more.  

“At Marshall we have several programs, but we are with student support services, which house Marshall University College students,” Jenkins said. “We just help first generation students with academic advising and financial aid predominantly.” 

Jenkins said this celebration began a few years ago.  

“We are trying to raise awareness of first-generation college students across the country. Each institution is trying to do a week- long recognition of the different activities,” said Jenkins.  

The Tri-Alpha Honor society is just one way they hope to increase awareness for these students.  

“There is usually a national first-gen day, and so we decided we wanted to celebrate the day, and also extend it out to a week’s worth of activities,” said Hensley.  

Jenkins said Marshall is unique compared to other schools, because Marshall has five trio programs that work to support students.

Marshall is home to the Heart of Appalachia Talent Program, Empowering Appalachia Talent Search Program, Upward Bound Program, Educational Opportunity Center, and Student Support Services.  

The Trio Program plans to keep this extended week celebration as a tradition in the future, and host more events to raise awareness throughout the semester.