New TRIO office to support first- gen and students with disabilities


Courtesy / Tom Canuel

Christopher Lee has been named director of the federal TRIO program on campus.

Tom Canuel, Crier Staff

The college community officially welcomed the TRIO federally funded program to the Jean Student Center last Thursday. The new office is aimed at assisting first-generation students and students with disabilities through advising resources and collaborative programming.

         The program comes after college administration successfully applied for a $1.12 million federal grant in 2022 that allowed funding for office space, programming, and staff members to connect students to resources and help them navigate college. Dean Stephanie Fernandez is a major supporter and the official overseer for the TRIO program’s initiatives on the Hilltop. She said, “The TRIO program will help us to better support students. Their job is to be connectors to places like the ARC, disability services, and financial aid. They make it easier for income-eligible students and students with disabilities to access our institution.”

         Christopher Lee was recently hired to serve as the director of the program for the Hilltop. However, behind the scenes work began last fall and continues as the office begins to reach out to eligible students. Lee stated, “our goal is to get students from orientation to graduation. Ultimately, students will be able to have another home here to relax and build community.”

         “It can be tricky to navigate college as a first-generation student. We want to make sure those students feel supported throughout their whole experience,” Fernandez reflected. “This is a whole new advising direction for the college. Students have academic advisors to help them navigate classes. By adding a TRIO advisor, we are able to provide students a holistic resource that will be there until their next chapter.”

         Students applying to Saint Anselm College can apply to the TRIO program online. Current students will be sent emails soon if they are eligible. According to Lee, some students have already applied for aid from the office. “We will be sending out emails soon to eligible students to try to connect, and we’ll be running different programs on topics such as career services, financial literacy, continuing education, and advising.”

         Lee also commented, “Students should sign up for the sense of community with other students in the program and so they have the ability to come in and ask any questions they may have about their college experience. That can be anything from academic, home, and res life situations that may come up.”

The excitement for the new program echoed through Dean Fernandez’s voice. “TRIO is the cheerleader from start to finish. The focus here is that students stay and feel that they belong. What matters is getting them their degree to impact the world.”

         Lee agreed. “Ultimately, we are here to help and keep students on track, watch them grow, and help with any questions or worries.”

         The TRIO office is located in the former Study Abroad office in the basement of the Jean Student Center. According to Dean Fernandez, study abroad is now moved upstairs in some extra office space with the CDC. Interested students and families can reach out to Christopher Lee or visit the office to gain more information about applications and how to better access their resources. The TRIO office looks forward to collaborating with different offices and departments throughout campus as Lee and his staff continue to acclimate to the college community.