Nov. 8 was National First-Generation Day, but Old Dominion University's commitment to first-generation college students began years before such a day existed. TRiO Student Support Services, a federally funded grant program, has been a consistent part of ODU's academic-support landscape for more than 30 years. In August, TRiO SSS received official notification that the grant has been renewed for another five years.

The purpose of the Student Support Services (SSS) Program is to provide academic and other support services to low-income, first-generation or disabled college students; to increase their retention and graduation rates; and foster a supportive institutional climate.

ODU's TRiO SSS will be awarded $376,155 annually for the next five years. This will allow ODU to continue to provide:

  • Individualized counseling for personal, career and academic matters.
  • Information, activities and instruction designed to acquaint students with the range of career options available.
  • Exposure to cultural events and academic programs not usually available to disadvantaged students.
  • Mentoring programs involving faculty or upperclassmen, or a combination thereof.
  • Other activities designed to meet the purposes of the SSS program.

According to Passion Studivant, the director of ODU's TRiO SSS program, the impact of SSS over the past 30-plus years is impressive. Thousands of ODU SSS graduates have moved on to successful careers, inspiring the SSS students who follow them.

"As an ODU alum and SSS graduate myself, I found comfort in having the support system of SSS to assist me in my route to earning my bachelor's degree and encouraging me to enroll in graduate school," she said. "Many SSS graduates mention how glad they were to have found SSS because, without the support, they may not have graduated."

In addition to SSS, ODU offers mentoring services to first-generation college students. ODU F1RST pairs students with trained peer and/or faculty mentors to serve as additional resources, advocates and guides. ODU F1RST faculty mentors, having been first-generation students themselves, are popular, particularly with junior- and senior-level students wanting to learn about the possibilities after ODU.

"First-generation students have always been a vibrant part of our ODU community," Studivant said. "When we celebrate National First-Generation Day, we remember their strength, tenacity, and fighting spirit, but we also recognize those who support them at every step - from their first steps onto campus grounds to their final steps off the graduation stage."

For more information regarding Student Support Services at Old Dominion University, contact Studivant at or (757) 683-3582.

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