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Columbia College Trio Educational Opportunity Center to help nontraditional students


Navigating the college admission process can be an overwhelming task for high school seniors, not to mention the nontraditional students.

The Trio Educational Opportunity Center at Columbia College is assisting future students with the financial aid process, student loan counseling academic planning, and even career planning.

Noah Cooley wants to study business in college and says the assistance he got from the center only helps him.

"I'm proving to myself that I'm better than what I've been shown, I definitely owe it to myself," said Cooley.

Karen Hayes, a TRIO Center employee, said the staff is there to help those students.

"Looking at those who are low income and possibly the first person in the family to go to college," said Hayes.

The majority of visitors to the center are hoping to become the first in their families to graduate college.

"First generations, I don't care how old you are, if you want to go back to school there is an opportunity now," said Rev. James Gray

"They going to get you right they definitely will, the real patient with you I mean you just tell them what you looking at and they see what options they have for you," said Cooley.

"And we're also the person who says if this is your goal this is your goal," says Hayes.

Hayes says there is a lot of negative noise out there from people who put down the need for a college education.

"College is still your best bet don't buy the hype of these billionaires that you know have made it cause all of them have college degrees except for maybe one or two. It is about making sure the adults that come in this program have every success possible," said Hayes.

For one well-known citizen of Columbia, the work and efforts of getting people into the right college are worth it for him to come out of retirement.

"We want to make a difference in everybody's life no matter what color you are no matter where you from we just want to do what's right to make a difference," said, Rev. James Gray

"I'm not saying I'm better than anybody but like I've gave myself a past that nobody else really wants to or could give themselves," said Cooley.

The TRIO Center is the fourth such location in the state of Missouri and is located at Wightman Hall on the campus of Columbia College. For more information about the TRIO Center and the service, they offer you can reach them by phone at (573) 875-7586 or by email at

ABC 17 News Team


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