In the summer of 2017, Nancy Duong was like many incoming freshmen who were looking for a way to prepare for life at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). As she searched through the various programs offered on campus, she discovered Summer Bridge, hosted by UCI’s Student Success Initiatives (SSI).

SSI’s Summer Bridge offers students who are identified as low-income and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds a scholarship to attend the Freshman Edge Summer Program. Freshman Edge is a six-week program designed to help incoming freshmen make the academic and social transition to campus life. Not only do participants in Freshman Edge have the opportunity to take summer classes and earn credits toward their degrees, but they also have a chance to connect with other students, faculty, and staff. Students who participate in Freshmen Edge also receive special benefits in the form of personal academic advising, peer mentoring, access to workshops, tutoring scholarships, and so on. 

After her positive experience with Summer Bridge and the Freshman Edge Program, Nancy looked for other resources that she could rely on throughout her time at UCI. 

“I wanted the same support in workshops and advice through the rest of my college career” Nancy explains. “This is where I learned about TRIO and I applied to TRIO from there.” 

UCI’s TRIO Scholars Program is dedicated to supporting its students as they work towards graduation. Serving low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities who demonstrate an academic need for assistance, TRIO works to improve the academic outcomes of its student participants. Through TRIO, students have access to individualized guidance, academic counseling, tutoring support, mentorship, and a variety of other resources.

According to Nancy, her participation in the TRIO Scholars Program allowed her to establish a community of support that she could lean on in times of hardship. 

“The SSI staff are the most helpful people ever,” Nancy emphasizes. “Whenever I have a problem, or something I am not sure about, I know who to go to ask. Even if my specific counselor is not available, someone will still help me out.”

Nancy also points out that the program offers additional services that can make a meaningful difference for students in need. “They have laptop loan programs, LARC Scholarships, and many more that help students out,” she explains. While Nancy admits that these forms of assistance may seem small, having access to these resources can open a world of opportunity for student success.

Double majoring in Business Economics and Psychology and Social Behavior, Nancy is set to graduate as part of UCI’s Class of 2021. With graduation looming, Nancy reflects on how her involvement with SSI has changed her college experience for the better. 

When asked if she would recommend participation in these programs, she answers confidently, “Yeah, definitely. First-gen and low-income students should take advantage of these programs.” While she notes that the resources SSI offers are helpful, she places special significance on the emotional support offered by these programs. “They care about you as a person and your wellbeing,” she states, “They always check in on you and make you feel welcome.”

With the support of her TRIO family and the entire SSI community, Nancy’s future looks as brilliant as ever.

Are you a UCI student interested in learning more about SSI and its services? Then visit their website here.