ASCC Student Support Services Participates in TRIO Week
Sunday, February 19, 2012
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
This week, the Student Support Services (SSS) division at the American Samoa Community College will participate in TRIO Week, a nationwide activity during which the eight federally funded educational opportunity outreach programs that make up TRIO are encouraged to perform community services as a way to give back to their respective communities and say thank you for their support. “This is the second year we’ve participated in TRIO Week,” said SSS Director Repeka Alaimoana-Nuusa, “and we hope the public can stop by to observe our ongoing agricultural project.”
The Federal TRIO Programs consist of eight federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Administered, funded, and implemented by the United States Department of Education. TRIO programs are targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. Of the eight programs under the TRIO umbrella, ASCC hosts two, Student Support Services and Upward Bound. The SSS follows the specific mandate of helping low-income and first-generation students, including those with disabilities, to succeed in and graduate from college. Participants receive tutoring, counseling, and remedial instruction in order to achieve their goals of college completion. The SSS strives to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and facilitate the process of transition from one level of higher education to the next. A fixture at ASCC for more than 20 years, the SSS is funded to serve 200 participants from the English Language Institute (ELI).
Besides Director Alaimoana-Nuusa, the SSS staff includes Counselor Hipa Neria, Retention Specialist Hope Ropeti, Administrative Assistant Victory “Vickie” Tualatai and Lead Tutor Amber Fuaga. Every semester, the SSS holds New Student Orientations, during which they recruit participants from the ELI population. In order to have enough time to track students at the ELI level, they prefer recruiting from English 70 and 80 levels. Once students successfully exit the ELI program, these students are no longer active members of SSS, although the program will still assist and track them while at the college level. Eligible students must be US citizens or nationals, low Income and receiving financial aid, first generation college students within their family, and/or have a disability.
Since the program includes a public service component, in spring 2010, the SSS participated in a plantation project in a lot behind the former faculty housing on the ASCC upper campus. The project aimed to, first, to provide an opportunity for participating SSS student to discover the numerous food resources available in American Samoa; second, to realize and value students’ contributions toward community collaborative efforts in food preservation; and third, to inspire young people to pursue career options in the field of agriculture. The students gained experience in land preparation, farming methods, procedures and crop maintenance. SSS collaborated with the Land Grant Agriculture Extension Program in obtaining crops that are now grown on the plantation.
During the project, students also participated in outside preparations of basic favorite dishes like “faalifu” and “luau ulo”. The experience not only enabled participants to appreciate traditional cooking, but most importantly, value team collaboration and hard work. As part of evaluation, students participated in the harvesting of crops, cooking, and sharing the resulting dishes with their ASCC partners. The project proved a great success and SSS continues to maintain the plantation. Last semester, its students also launched a hydroponic lettuce farm next to the SSS office. “We harvested these crops throughout the semester and shared the produce with ELI Instructors and SSS partners,” recalled Alaimoana-Nuusa.
During TRIO Week, the SSS plans to continue revitalizing its plantation located on the upper ASCC campus. The public can observe the results of their labors and pick up ideas for crops that can be cultivated in limited spaces. Their hydroponic project will also be available for public view. TRIO Week of the SSS will culminate with an open house during which guests will tour the plantation. “We are so excited with the enthusiasm our students have shown towards different methods of food cultivation, as well as the preparation of dishes based on locally grown crops,” said Alaimoana-Nuusa, who added that the SSS is looking into adding hydroponic fish farming to its learning resources.
More information on the SSS and its services can be found at: http://www.amsamoa.edu/academicssupportsss.htm