Story by Erik Potter
Being a first-generation college student can be challenging for a freshman — something Lisa Scheese knows from experience. However, when she found the TRiO Student Support Services program at Columbia College, it became her “go-to” resource on how to navigate her new world.
Scheese’s experience with the TRiO program as an undergraduate was the driving force in her decision to work in higher education and to serve underrepresented students. She was more than a decade into her career when she had the opportunity four years ago to work for Mizzou’s TRiO program. She didn’t hesitate to apply.
TRiO is a federal grant–supported program that assists nearly 700 undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds, such as first-generation students, low-income students and students with disabilities. TRiO is a holistically serving program that helps with many aspects of college life: academic, financial, social, career development, leadership development and cultural competency.
In addition to serving the general TRiO population, Scheese works to create awareness for this exceptional group across campus, as well as to ensure the basic needs of homeless and foster youth are met.
Although there are many administrative duties to her current TRiO coordinator position, her main focus is providing support to students and creating an atmosphere where they can be themselves.
“Our goal as a program is to make our students feel like they have a home on our campus and that they feel valued,” Scheese says. Knowing that eight of her students nominated her for the MU Inclusive Excellence Award tells her she’s on the right track.
“It shows that the program is doing what it is designed to do and that students feel valued on our campus and in the community,” Scheese says. “I feel privileged that they have singled me out for this award, but it’s the whole staff that works together to make our program a diverse and inclusive atmosphere.”