University of Alaska celebrates college access with TRiO Day

In February universities around the country recognize low income, first generation and disabled students for overcoming the odds and succeeding in college—and the University of Alaska is no exception. The University of Alaska houses Student Support Services (SSS) and Upward Bound (UB) programs at both UAF and UAA and will celebrate national TRIO Day, named for the federal program that provides funding, in a joint celebration on Friday, February 19.

The event will feature a welcome from University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney. 

The TRIO programs will honor current students, staff or faculty members who have been an advocate for TRIO students, as well as TRIO alumni that have gone on to do great things in the community.

The UAF Justice Department will be honored with the UAF TRIO Champion award for their continued support of SSS students, through a partnership that allows for faculty instruction in the Emerging Scholars Academy. SSS also recognizes and applauds their support for the newly awarded SSS STEM grant by granting the program the additional office space needed to serve additional students.

“We are grateful to have tenacious advocates in faculty such as Clinical Assistant Professor of Justice, Frank Boldt, a fellow first-generation graduate, and his wife Michelle who have been consistent contributors to our annual winter break food box outreach to SSS students with limited resources over the holiday closure.” Victoria Smith, Director, UAF SSS

The UAF UB program has been in existence since 1966. Currently, UAF UB serves 160 students in 10 target schools in rural Alaska, providing services like tutoring, career exploration, scholarship preparation, cultural activities, and a six-week summer residence opportunity. 

 “This was a challenging year for our students and staff. I am inspired by the resilience and fortitude that was demonstrated on a daily basis. The students of Upward Bound embody the spirit of a “Growth Mindset” and continually find ways to convert setbacks into learning opportunities.” said Adam Low, Interim Director UAF UB.

UAA Upward Bound will award two student awards to outstanding participants who embody the true spirit of TRIO and who have demonstrated academic success, community engagement, and leadership, all of which are characteristics that TRIO programs strive to develop with their students. This year’s recipients are Winston Katoanga from West High School and Shoua Nah Lee from Bartlett High School.

“I feel beyond grateful to have the opportunity to work with such inspiring students who are paving the way for younger generations. It’s an honor to give these awards to such deserving individuals and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for them,” Kaitlin DeMarcus, Director, UAA UB

UAA Student Support Services will award student Erickson Sefania the UAA TRIO SSS Student Award, for his dedication and engagement to the program. UAA SSS Director, Whitney WIlliams said

“I am honored to celebrate all that TRIO is and continues to be. Our students have faced unprecedented challenges this past year but it has not stopped their dreams of becoming the first in their family to earn a college degree.”

In addition to UAA’s individual student awards, Upward Bound and Student Support Services will be awarding three combined awards.The TRIO Champion award goes to an individual or department on campus who has gone above and beyond to support the mission of UAA’s TRIO programs by providing advocacy, professional development, and enthusiasm. This year’s recipient is Tamika Dowdy, UAA’s Middle College Program Coordinator. The TRIO Community Award recognizes a key organization or individual whose support has played a critical role in the ongoing success of UAA’s TRIO programs. This year’s recipient is Troy Hodge, Anchorage School District School Counselor at West High School. The third UAA award is the TRIO Alumni Award, which recognizes a former TRIO participant for their outstanding accomplishments. This year’s recipient is Tammalivis Salanoa, an active participant in multiple TRIO programs who recently graduated from UAA. 

TRIO programs across the nation have been providing valuable supportive services to students from first generation or low-income backgrounds for over 50 years.

The TRIO programs help first-generation, low-income, and those students who may experience a disability overcome social, cultural, and academic barriers to succeed in higher education. By providing direct services and individually focused and intensive programming geared towards helping students navigate the college admissions and financial aid process, TRIO programs assist students in overcoming the obstacles they encounter. Today, an estimated 5 million students have graduated from college with the support and assistance of TRIO programs across the country and more than 1,000 colleges, universities, and community agencies host more than 2,800 TRIO projects that serve more than 800,000 young people and adults.

The virtual event will be February 19 from 2-4:30 pm—and is open to the public. You may register to attend here,

For more information on this event, contact UAF SSS Director, Victoria Smith at