Changing students lives

College is hard.

It’s especially hard when you are the first in your family to go to college.

Or are trying to make ends meet and earn a college degree.

Or you have disability that may challenge you on achieving your degree dream.

That’s where programs like TRiO Student Support Services and PowerSkills enter the picture, assisting students with their educational goals and dreams. Support comes in the form of advising, tutoring, career planning.

“Many students need that smaller environment to transition from high school or the workforce to college. Our services give students that guide map to make it,” said Dr. Cathleen Ruch, director of the college’s TRiO Student Support Services program.

The TRiO grant was funded back in the early 2000s. Many Lake Region State College students fit the criteria of the program. The program took off quickly and the results for student retention, completion, and graduation soared.

Lake Region State College administration was so invested in the TRiO program’s success that it enhanced services with the PowerSkills center, providing similar services to the TRiO program to students who may be ineligible for the TRiO program.

The two programs are located near each other and work closely with students, creating a win-win situation.

“Student-service focused – that is what we are,” Ruch said.

The TRiO and PowerSkills programs are helpful in preparing students for success, said recent graduate Eric Johnston.

“I saw how much they were willing to help, which was a motivator to do my best in classes,” he said. “It also was nice to know I had people to turn to if a class or process was becoming overwhelming.”

The federal TRiO grant serves students who are low income, disabled, or first generation college students (meaning parents do not have bachelor’s degree). However, Lake Region State College saw that the need for tutoring, career advising, test proctoring, and other services was evident with more of the student population.

That’s where the PowerSkills program comes into play.

Many campuses that may provide similar services are branched out in different offices and it is up to the student to figure out which office provides the services needed. Lake Region State College is small enough that the office is easy to find and students are served promptly.

The two services are in one office suite.  PowerSkills also serves as the disability services center.

“Students come in and don’t have to walk around to find the services that fit them. We are a one-stop shop,” said LRSC President Doug Darling.  

That’s not something you find everywhere.

With registration day coming up August 14, students and their families should find out what the PowerSkills and TRiO programs are all about and prepare to start college at Lake Region State College.

For more information go to or call (701) 662-1514.

Editors Note:

The North Dakota Association of Career and Technical Educators (NDACTE) held its annual conference on August 6th-8th, 2018 at the Ramkota in Bismarck, ND.  The theme for this year’s conference was “Today’s Success, Tomorrows Future” which reflected how CTE has a role in education and the resources that CTE provides for all of education today and tomorrow.  

Each year the Director's Award of Excellence is presented to a program that has shown excellence in a number of aspects. This year, Lake Region State College’s TRiO Student Support Services/ Power Skills program was selected to receive this year's award in the Special Populations area.