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Thirty years of Student Support Services celebrated at HCC

Halifax Community College Student Support Services (SSS) BEACON Program staff held “Telling the Story: Celebrating 30 Years in TRIO” on Apr. 30. The event highlighted 30 years of program accomplishments. The keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Henry, professor and director of the SSS Program at Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands, Va.

Henry came from the coal mining tradition of West Virginia and described growing up in the 1950s-60s during school desegregation. “I grew up with the mindset that you had to be a genius and you had to be rich to go to college. I didn’t know that I was eligible for financial aid and other assistance because I didn’t fall into the top 10 of my graduating class. …Most of the time in high school, I was told that I would never make it in college. …Being a first-generation college student, I was a prime candidate for TRIO,” he said.

Since Henry did not have a plan for the future when he talked with his guidance counselor, he was advised to go to trade school. He did so, and became a welder. Later on, he decided to further his education. Henry now holds degrees and certifications from Bluefield State College, Marshall University and East Tennessee State University.

Addressing the topic of why TRIO serves as a model for the 21st century, Henry noted, “We realize that students need more than just financial aid to be successful.” He explained that TRIO was in the trenches in 1964-65, way before “No Child Left Behind.” Although it started during turbulent times in the country, its purpose was to assist first-generation and low-income students, and those with disabilities to be able to be successful in college and graduate. It now serves as a pipeline for students in middle and high school to make them aware of the opportunities of a college education. The program currently serves about 90,000 students or nine percent of the eligible population nationwide.

“There are more students out there that could use our services,” said Henry. Plus, graduates of TRIO have gone on to fill a variety of different professions. “The TRIO programs are about changing a generation,” said Henry. He explained that once a student completes a baccalaureate degree, his or her children will not be first-generation college students, which changes the conversation about college between parents and children. If a person has a degree, his or her earning potential will be greater as well.  

The SSS Program at HCC serves more than 270 students. It provides opportunities for academic development, assists students with basic college requirements and serves to motivate students toward the successful completion of their post-secondary education.

Services provided include tutoring, personal counseling/mentoring, college transfer advising and college visitations, cultural enrichment, laptop loan program, video/book loan program, grant aid, and the Summer Bridge Program.

TRIO programs have a history closely linked with the administrative programs begun in the 1960’s. They have sought to provide educational and economic opportunities to those unable to afford them. The Upward Bound program was the first of the programs introduced in response to the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty. Subsequent programs such as Talent Search and Student Support Services soon followed and were authorized through higher education amendments. The term “TRIO” was coined to refer to the three initial programs. HCC’s SSS program was among the first such programs established and has had continuous funding from the U.S. Department of Education since 1977.

Peer and professional tutors, faculty volunteer tutors, mentors and mentees were also recognized during the ceremony. These included:



Peggy Alexander (S)

Timothy Archer (S)

Derrick M. Bennett (S)

Victoria D. Bennett (S)

James E. Debrow (S)

Cornelius J. Dickens (S)

Spinosa M. Gee (S)

Susan P. Gray (S)

Travis D. Harding (S)

Shalonda K. Hicks (S)

Theodore R. Ivey, Jr. (S)

Rachel K. Moore (S)

Katie M. Penley (S)

James E. Phelps (S)

Brenda H. Phillips (S)

Shawnique D. Squire (S)

Demeatrice J. Ward (S)

Theodora Zacharopoulos (S)



Juanita C. Alston (N)

William Beck (N)

Bertha K. Edwards (N)

Fontaine G. Jarman, IV (S)

Brian Watts (N)


(N = Non-student) (S = Student)



B. T. Brown

Sithah Campbell

Bryan Carter

Paige Cutchin

Dr. Julie Dilday

Cathy Farabow

James McCachren

Monica Simmons

Hunter Taylor

Gloria Tysinger

Dr. James Clark

Cathy Sykes, RDH

Verna High, RDH

D.J. Markham, RDH

Victoria Bennett Carla Clark
Spinosa Gee Lamika Johnson
Susan Gray Kokeithia Avent
Shalonda Hicks Jacqueline Mason
Rachel Moore Kayla Wilson
James Phelps Anthony Price
Iris Johnson Shirlon Battle


Dr. Henry

Dr. Michael Henry, professor and director of the SSS Program at Southwest Virginia Community College