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Exterior of Honolulu Community College building

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Honolulu Community College’s TRIO-Student Success Services (TRIO-SSS) program a five-year grant totaling $1,370,685 to support eligible students in achieving their academic goals.

“Given this time of uncertainty, we are grateful to receive continued funding to support eligible Honolulu CC students on their academic journey,” said Jolene Suda, TRIO-SSS project director. “As a former participant and graduate of a TRIO-SSS program, I know firsthand the difference TRIO programs make and have witnessed the life-changing effects of the program on our students.”

TRIO-SSS is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Education. TRIO stands for the first three programs created to assist and support low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities with matriculation through the academic pathway beginning at middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

The TRIO-SSS program provides a full-range of academic support, career guidance, transfer planning and professional development opportunities to qualified students. Those students receive individualized assessment, dedicated advising, small group tutoring, mentoring, cultural and educational workshops, club and community service activities and other academic support at no cost.

Students who participate in the program show higher persistence and graduation rates, transfer to a four-year campus in greater numbers and feel more supported versus their peers who don’t participate in the program. Since 2005, approximately 2,400 students have been served through Honolulu CC’s TRIO-SSS program.

Student stories

three students
From left, Bobby Wen, Jan Vierra and JoAnn Tuifanu

Bobby Wen, a graduate of Honolulu CC and the TRIO program, earned his associate degree in liberal arts and transferred to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Wen, who is working for a major construction company as a preconstruction engineer estimator, said, “The TRIO program has been instrumental for me to complete my college career. They provided guidance that I didn’t even know I needed. As a first-generation college student, this was a big accomplishment for my family and me. The program also instills skills such as leadership, initiative and team mentality that I continue to grow and use in my professional career.”

Honolulu CC and TRIO program graduate Jan Vierra earned her associate degree in cosmetology. As a non-traditional college student, Vierra said that the “TRIO-SSS program was my support, my lifeline, and they gave me a sense of being a part of a family. I always had a place to study, get tutored, and when I needed support or encouragement, TRIO-SSS was always there. Because of TRIO-SSS, I was able to graduate in a timely manner, and due to one of the transfer college events, I realized I wanted to earn a four-year degree. I would highly recommend this program to all students that qualify. I am so grateful for TRIO-SSS.”

She went on to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in human development and family services from UH Mānoa and is currently employed as the academic support coordinator for the TRIO-SSS program at Honolulu CC.

JoAnn Tuifanu, another graduate of Honolulu CC and the TRIO program, earned her associate degree in liberal arts. As a non-traditional, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island student, Tuifanu said, “TRIO has been a home away from home for me. TRIO’s caring staff, tutors and coaches helped me build the academic foundation needed to achieve my associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree.”

Upon attaining her degree from Honolulu CC, Tuifanu transferred to UH Mānoa, where she went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. She is preparing to take the licensed master social worker exams and is interested in providing services within the field of behavioral health.

For more information about Honolulu CC’s TRIO-SSS, visit:

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