Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Impact of TRIO & OHIO UB from Staff Perspectives

The Ohio University TRIO Upward Bound (OHIO UB) program thrives on helping first generation college students from low income backgrounds. However, this could not be accomplished if it wasn’t for the amazing staff that has made up the OHIO Upward Bound team. Over the years, many staff members have put their time and effort into making this program what it is today, often working above and beyond position requirements.

One such person is Dr. Rebecca Barlag, an assistant professor at Ohio University and the current director of B.S. Forensic Chemistry. Dr. Barlag has worked as the OHIO UB summer chemistry instructor since 2010. She believes that “TRIO matters because students of all types - first generation, high school-straight to college, returning to school after many years working or in the military, need support. They need to know that they have a group of people who will help them to adjust and to overcome their fears.”

Former residential director and academic year volunteer, Jacob Gillam, states, “even though I'm an adult facilitating the summer phase, I consider those six weeks to be as transformative for me as they are for the students.” Not only is the summer phase a time of academic growth for students but it’s also a time for personal and career growth for program staff. Jacob’s involvement with the OHIO UB program has helped him realize that, “If it wasn't for [OHIO] UB, I think I would have learned to hate teaching and resented my students, but instead I was able to reconsider what my goals are as an educator.” Even Dr. Barlag found that she has, “learned to be more patient with my students and to know that the process of learning is actually more important than the content or amount of material that I teach.”

TRIO programs like Upward Bound have transformed the lives of many people.  For 50 years, the OHIO Upward Bound team has made a huge impact on southeast Ohio, offering students support and educational resources that are often limited elsewhere. However, these programs don’t just provide resources to many first-generation college students on their journey to success, but help program staff grow for the better, too. As Dr. Barlag stated, “my favorite part of the program is that it feels like family.” OHIO Upward Bound is an inclusive place where people come together and grow academically, socially, and even professionally.

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