BBCC receives grant to help first-generation college students
Big Bend Community College officials are elated by news of a five-year renewal of federal funding for its TRiO Student Support Service (SSS) program, which has served first- generation, low-income, and disabled students for more than 30 years.
The college received notice of the grant award in late July, scoring a perfect 106 points for its proposal in a very competitive process.
Approximately 82 percent of BBCC students are first-generation college students, meaning their parents do not have a bachelor’s degree. BBCC’s service district also has one of the lowest per-capita income levels in the state.
“With one year left on the current grant, this means our Student Support Services program is funded for the next six years ,” said Terry Leas, BBCC President.
Big Bend’s SSS Program is authorized to serve 190 students per year. The new grant award is for $1.4 million over five years, or approximately $281,000 per year.
Last spring 60 SSS students attending Big Bend graduated with an associate’s degree. SSS advisors help at-risk students navigate college and complete degree programs. They also help students transition to the next step in their education or career.
“The greatest reward for the staff of SSS is to see our students walk across the stage and receive their diplomas after all the barriers they overcame,” said Custodio Valencia, BBCC Director of Student Support Services. “You can’t help but be proud of them for finding a way to succeed, and knowing they will go on to become teachers, engineers, nurses, counselors and many other types of professionals.”
Valencia was a first-generation student from Royal City who overcame many of the same barriers as today’s students. He now has a master’s degree and is director of a successful SSS program.
Although SSS works with at-risk students, its student success and achievement rates are higher than the college as a whole, Leas said.
In addition to one-on-one advising, SSS services include laptop and textbook loans, assistance in applying for scholarships, skills development workshops, campus visits to universities, supplemental instruction and tutoring, and a study lab where they are always welcome.