Student Support Services (SSS) celebrated 30 years at Central Wyoming College with an Open House on Wednesday, March 7th from 11:30 – 1 pm. Student success stories were visible for all to appreciate. Student Support Services at CWC is an honorary program for students who are dedicated to their success. Over the past 30 years SSS has served over 6,300 students. The current SSS programs serves 410 students annually and is the largest SSS program in the 6 state ASPIRE region; Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
According to Jewel Dirks, SSS director at CWC from 1991-2001, “Linda Fossett wrote the original grant under the auspices of Mohammed Waheed, the King of Grant Writing. Janelle Pepper Chew was the first director, 1988-1990. I think the original number served was something like 210.” According to Dirks, “We upped the number of students served to 410 to get a better ratio.”
Dirks goes on to report, “We were pretty much an orphan during those first few years and housed in very crowded conditions in an upstairs room of the old library. Dirks goes on to say, “The computer lab and tutor lab came into being around 1995, which reflects the changed attitude that the college now has towards the importance of the grant.” The area was remodeled again during the summer of 2016 and has become a hub of student activity.
Dirks describes SSS as playing a key role in diversity development in the 1990’s–having several sub grants which included a Native American Film Festival. Dirks says, “The festival brought in some pretty neat international Native American stars and directors. We also had projects which included some fantastic Cinco de Mayo celebrations. We had an ongoing diversity newsletter and monthly meetings with the tribal leaders and reservation service agencies, and ongoing pot-luck celebrations—–any excuse to get together to eat. The push for improved relations with the tribes really came from our offices, then. That preceded the college’s eventual commitment to a Tribal liaison officer, a position currently held by Ivan Posey.”
Marilu Duncan became Director for the project in 2001 and continued until her retirement in 2016. Duncan, who has been responsible for multiple diversity activities at CWC continued the program with a climate of acceptance for all students.
Marilu Duncan reports, “Under Jewel Dirks, Student Support Services became the voice of diversity and inclusion for students at the college. SSS is a safe haven for students and honors the richness of the student population. We are who we are because of all of us, not just one person. The flags in SSS represent the respect for all students who have been on our campus.”
For more than a decade, Duncan had been the director of one of the largest and most successful SSS programs in the nation. She has touched the lives of many students and helped them on their path to succeed. In reference to her years with SSS Duncan exclaims “Oh, I love it! Without a doubt, these were the best 16 years of my life. I love the students, faculty, all of the people I worked with. This program allows students to follow their dreams! I am so proud of my American citizenship and everyone should have the opportunities that I have had.”
Following Duncan’s retirement, Deryle Matland too the position in 2016 as the current program manager. Matland is excited to be part of SSS in its 30 year celebration and believes in honoring the efforts of students, “First generation students often struggle with a dual identity, who they are at home with their family and culture and who they are as students. There can be a lot of conflict with mixed messages for students. We strive to acknowledge the value and importance of their achievements in education and want them to know that being a first generation student is something to be proud of. When they it make to graduation, we are hugely celebrating their successes and the path they have forged for future generations!”
SSS Staff Quotes
“I just love seeing students succeed! They walk in afraid and two years later they are graduating and transferring to other colleges. It’s so wonderful to see them grow as individuals and do good things with their lives! “
Transfer Coach Paula Hartbank
“The TRIO SSS Mentoring Program provides students an opportunity to work with an experienced peer mentor who can relate to their unique challenges, but has the experience to help them work through these challenges to be successful.”
Retention Coach Matt Myers
“I enjoy working with the tutors and seeing them work with other students. The tutors are available throughout the semester, to help students build self-confidence and develop skills to be successful in classes. It is exciting to watch when students understand concepts, are proud of their work and form bonds with other students, by working with Student Support Services staff and tutors. No two days are alike, that makes coming to work each day even better.
Skills Development Coach Lisa Appelhans
SSS Student Quotes:
“TRIO has been a source of great help since I started in CWC, from the staff, to Deb Starks (one of our counselors), to the tutors. You can always walk in and just talk to someone or get help. There is always someone that at the very least can point you in the right direction, if not take you where you need to go. They are always happy to help. The tutors are very knowledgeable on their multiple subjects, if they don’t know the answer to a question they will help to look it up so they can learn as well.”
Student Crystal Santor
“Student Support Services, a.k.a. TRIO, has proven to be an invaluable resource in the pursuit of my aspirations here at CWC. Truly, I couldn’t have been successful without them; they are a 5 star asset?
Student Alan Morris
“TRIO and Student Support Services has really helped me transition. I am more comfortable and have more confidence going to college. I didn’t really know what I was going to do as far as school and SSS gave me the tools and skills I need. Now I’m able to reach and mentor other students, be involved in clubs, and even have jobs on campus. I graduate this spring and am looking forward to transfer to a 4 year school!”
Student Tapaynga Hill
Top Pictures: Students enjoying the 30th celebration
Bottom Left: Left to right Transfer Coach Paula Hartbank, Former Director
Marilu Duncan,Skills Coach Lisa Appelhans,
back Retention Coach Matt Myers
Bottom Right: Program Manager Deryle Matland, Former Director Marilu Duncan