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Student Testimonials

julio arroyo burdettMy name is Julio Arroyo, and I am a TRIO student at PCC Cascade. I returned to school as an adult learner living in recovery with a few challenges.

By the end of my first term it became apparent that I was in need of extra support. A friend suggested I look into the TRIO program. I liked the personal one-on-one service they offered, so I applied to join.

Now, I’m starting on my second year, and received a PCC Foundation scholarship, as well as identified and received accommodations for my needs. I also continue to get career guidance to work on my career goals.

It is probable that I could have made this far alone, but being part of the TRIO program has made it possible for me to succeed by virtue of being part of a resourceful team.

Julio Arroyo-Burdett, TRIO Student, Alcohol & Drug Counseling major


kara gallemoreI first heard about TRIO Roots during fall term of my freshman year. At that point I had been out of school for twelve years and, although I was excited, the road ahead felt a bit daunting. I was happy to hear about a support program geared toward students who, like myself, are low income, nontraditional, and/or first generation. I applied for the program shortly thereafter, and was ecstatic when I was accepted.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the TRIO Roots program. My college experience thus far would not have been the same without it. The program provides personalized academic advising, college success courses, financial aid and planning advice, scholarship opportunities and workshops, tutoring, volunteer opportunities, and access to faculty, staff, and student mentorship and support networks.

I particularly enjoyed the three required college success courses; each provided information I would not have otherwise received. I found the financial success course particularly helpful, not just for the abundance of valuable information, but also for the relationship I forged with Sarah Loepker, who teaches the course and works directly with TRIO students in the financial aid office. Sarah has been there for me multiple times over the past couple years whenever I needed assistance with financial planning, whether it was academic or long term. She is genuinely passionate about helping students thoroughly grasp the vast, multifaceted, and often confusing world of financial aid.

Additionally, TRIO Roots has shaped my college experience through the individualized advising it provides. I feel so privileged to have Melanie Montoya as my advisor, whose guidance has gone far beyond helping me plan my course work: Melanie has written many scholarship letters of recommendation for me, she has helped me with scholarship essays, and she encouraged me to apply for student leadership with ASPCC, which itself was a life-altering experience. Most recently, she encouraged me to apply to the Build Exito Program at Portland State University, which will further supplement my success as a student and as a science major. Build Exito is a federally funded program founded for the purpose of training and educating undergraduate students interested in biomedical research. When I initially heard about the program in a health science class, I was intimidated. I nearly talked myself out of applying when, in one of our routine meetings, Melanie’s knack for “the gentle nudge” got me back on track. I applied that week and was accepted shortly thereafter. After attending the Build Exito orientation, which was chock full of science-related presentations and panels, I found myself glowing with a confidence I never thought I could possess, and I know that I have Melanie to thank for that.

Programs like TRIO Roots are incredibly important for low income, first generation, and/or Nontraditional students because we arrive at college with a great deal of enthusiasm, but we are also weighed with fear and doubt. TRIO Roots helps students overcome those feelings that can get in the way of being successful in school. Additionally, it acts as a bridge program that directly facilitates moving students in the right direction. It is a retention program that does exactly that, and so much more. For me, this program has been indispensable; the entirety of my college experience, the quality of my life, and the success of my future are all that much more enriched as a direct result of the TRIO Roots program.

Kara Gallemore, TRIO Student, Biology major/future Doctor of Neuroscience

(Note: “Roots” used to be the nickname for our TRIO SSS Program.)

salvador garcia lopezThroughout high school I always had the dream of going to college. I joined College Possible which is a Non-Profit organization designed to help students get into college and graduate from college. Their program helped me study for the ACT and apply to colleges. I was ready to go to a 4-year college but after I received my financial aid packages I needed to take out about $10,000 in loans. That is why I decided to come to Portland Community College.

College for a freshman is already hard, but being a freshman, low-income, and first-generation college student made my first term even more difficult. College Possible was helpful but I needed more help with registering for classes and finding a tutor whose way of teaching I could understand. I didn’t know how to become involved on campus since I didn’t think I could fit in on campus. After my first term at PCC I knew I needed to get help in order for me to complete my Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree in two years.

That’s when TRIO came into my life. Their academic advisors talked about TRIO in my Math 60 class. I knew that was the service that I needed. After applying and getting accepted, I was introduced to an academic advisor who I can make appointments with to talk about registering for classes and planning beyond PCC, and who knows me by my name rather than by my G number.

Thanks to TRIO I have been provided with a patient math tutor that has helped me understand difficult material when I needed more time to learn. I was taught how to approach my professors with questions and get rid of the fear of going to office hours. I took one of their College Success and Career Guidance classes that helped me get organized and stay motivated. I got informed about events on campus which led me to become more active on campus and attend events. I also got informed about jobs on campus and I am now an Equity & Diversity Advocate for the Cascade Multicultural Center.

Because of TRIO I am now more active on campus and have the grades to successfully transfer to a 4-year university for Fall 2017. Overall, I am glad that I joined TRIO in my first year of college because it truly changed the outcome of my college career and has prepared me for when I transfer. Thank you TRIO!

Salvador Garcia Lopez, TRIO Student and Cascade Multicultural Center Student Advocate


I really don’t know if I would have resumed my education without Cascade ROOTS.  Because of the encouragement of the staff in ROOTS, I’ve applied for lots of scholarships I didn’t know existed.  Rebecca Jamieson, Ford Foundation Scholar, transferred to PSU.


On returning to college after a break: “I was a little intimidated at first, but ROOTS helped me to find my self-worth. It helped me to work harder.”  Floyd Pittman, Alcohol & Drug Counseling Program, transferred to PSU.