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Trio student at Iowa Lakes CC ‘didn’t want to like it’

Flaherty changes tune after attending program

May 26, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Lauren Flaherty came to Iowa Lakes Community College in 2015 as a graduate of Graettinger-Terril High School, not sure what she wanted to do.

"Growing up in a small school, you get to know everyone in the class moving from preschool up through high school," Flaherty said.

She said earning her associate's degrees at Iowa Lakes Community College was "a good experience," though she was hesitant at first.

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"I didn't want to like it," Flaherty said.

The primary reason she attended Iowa Lakes Community College was financial. Value was important to Flaherty and her family, and "there's more bang for your buck," Flaherty said.

"It's also a baby step between a small high school and a big university," Flaherty said. Flaherty also cited the family feeling, friendliness, and in large part, the TRIO-SSS program for making her experience at Iowa Lakes Community College a fulfilling one.

"With TRIO, we had access to tutors, and help with application fees to four-year colleges, with money management, and opportunities to go on college visits."

Flaherty went on a trip to Sioux Falls for visits to University of Sioux Falls and Augustana College, along with a stop in Brookings to visit South Dakota State University.

"It was a combination of serious college visits with fun, and TRIO-SSS provided keys for transferring to university," Flaherty said.

Nicole Heng, TRIO-SSS Advisor at Iowa Lakes Community College at the Emmetsburg campus, said, "a lot of what we do is get students into the classes they need to transfer and graduate on time, making transferring easy."

Heng works with students from lower income families, or those with neither parent having completed a four-year degree. The program also includes students with documented disabilities to access accommodations.

"We give students the tools they need to be successful here and after they transfer," Heng said.

Heng said she has helped students transfer not only within the Iowa and upper Midwest network of colleges and universities, but also nationwide to schools on the east and west coasts.

"I work with admission counselors nationwide, and they're receptive, because we have some pretty successful students," Heng said.

TRIO-SSS is sponsoring a Bridge program August 16-19 for high school graduates who participated in, or were eligible for the TRIO Talent Search in high school. Students stay in student housing at the Estherville campus, and spend three days ramping up to college life.

Students who successfully complete the program earn one elective credit to start their college careers.

Heng said, "We talk about successful learning, including study skills, test taking, budgeting, and give the students the chance to get to know their classmates."

The program also includes a game called Riddle Me That, an obstacle course, and a painting activity with Creative Spirits.

Flaherty graduated May 12 and is moving on to study communication science with an ambition to become a speech/language therapist or an interpreter for the hearing impaired.

Heng said, "TRIO-SSS has a lot to offer to help students succeed. The sooner a student comes to us, the better."



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