TRIO End-of-Year Celebration
TRIO End-of-Year Celebration

End-of-year event recognizes TRIO SSS students

TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills Community College held an end-of-year celebration Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in Heritage Hall. The event recognized TRIO SSS students graduating in spring 2016 and/or transferring to a four-year college or university. Matt Kruger, TRIO SSS director, joined TRIO SSS advisors, Alicia Atwater and Ruby Murillo, along with a packed classroom of TRIO SSS students to honor past successes and look forward to academic journeys of the future.

Each year, TRIO SSS at Inver selects 140 students to participate in the program. To qualify for TRIO SSS, you need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident enrolled in an Inver Hills degree program. You must also meet at least one of these federal eligibility criteria:

  • Be a first-generation college student (neither parent or guardian has a bachelor’s degree)
  • Qualify as low-income according to federal guidelines
  • Be eligible to receive accommodations through disability services at Inver Hills

View the End-of-year celebration Gallery on Flickr

Make the most of college…

TRIO SSS is a boon for students wishing to excel academically while bonding with members of a tight-knit, fun and caring community. Some benefits of joining TRIO SSS include:

  • Professional tutoring in math and writing
  • Academic advising, career planning and major exploration
  • College transfer planning
  • Visits to four-year schools
  • Workshops on various topics, including study skills and financial literacy
  • Social and cultural events

Taking the next step…

  • 2016–2017 TRIO Application
  • Summer Bridge Application
Mail, fax, or scan and e-mail the completed form to:

TRIO Student Support Services
Inver Hills Community College
2500 80th Street East
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
Fax: 651-450-3677

Matt Kruger

TRIO SSS Director

Matt Kruger
My Role
I love my job because I get the chance to create opportunities for students to pursue their dreams. TRIO programs are especially effective because they provide wraparound services that support students in all aspects of their lives. In providing those services to their students, TRIO staff get to know their students well and can be proactive—anticipating their needs and connecting them to opportunities they might otherwise not know about.

Matt KrugerPhilosophy
Our job is to empower our students to be the best they can be, to understand how higher education works and use it to improve their lives, and to be ready to make a difference in their communities and in the world.

What I Like Best
My favorite part of my job is getting to see growth in our students and getting to see them teach other.

Why Students Should Join
TRIO SSS is an inclusive, supportive community for you! No one succeeds on their own; successfully people find the resources and support they need to be successful. TRIO SSS can help you learn how to use the resources that will help you be successful and help you find new and greater opportunities.

Most Memorable Experience
My most memorable experiences in TRIO have all involved watching students do something they didn’t think was possible, whether that’s completing a high ropes course, overcoming their fear of numbers to succeed in a statistics class, speaking in front of a room of people as a leader, or gaining admission to a college or university they didn’t think they could get into.


Alicia Atwater

TRIO Advisor

Alicia Atwater
My role
My role as a TRIO advisor is very focused on helping students complete their college goals, assist in self-advocacy, and working through the transfer process as a team. Another large portion of what we do is being a cheerleader for our students. For many, they do not have someone cheering them on to reach beyond their goals to achieve their dreams. We celebrate the successes of our students no matter how “minor” it may seem because if it’s important to our students, it’s important to us.

TRIO Student Support ServicesPhilosophy
The guiding force in my job is that this isn’t work because I love coming into my office and meeting with students, planning events, and collaborating with Matt and Ruby. I truly believe all students have the ability to accomplish their dreams given the right amount of support. I am very fortunate because I get to work closely with some of the brightest, most ambitious, funny and talented students.

What I like best
There are so many things I like “best” about TRIO; it’s hard for me to narrow my list down, but I’ll try. I really look forward to getting to know my advisees on a personal level and celebrating their achievements. It’s an amazing feeling to see a student strive towards a goal they believed to be out of reach, accomplish their goal, and then go farther than they thought possible.
I also love how the students support, motivate, and check up on one another. Not only do TRIO students get great support from our staff, but also from one another.

Finally, I like how I am constantly challenged intellectually as well as personally. I learn new information every day and am confronted with very different situations. I enjoy helping others work through their life decisions and ultimately become stronger advocates for themselves.

Why students should join
Why not join TRIO? We are a very fun office that personalizes and proactively advises each of our students. Our students are more engaged in on-campus activities, have a significantly higher rate of graduation, transfer and receiving a scholarship, and have a built-in support network of fellow students.

Most memorable experience
It’s hard to pinpoint my most memorable experience because there have been and will continue to be so many wonderful times in the TRIO office. All of the best memories I have are filled with laughter, hugs, and smiles. A little-known, funny memory was when I came back from my maternity leave in April, 2015, to over 200 balloons blown up in my office, thanks to the student mentors and our director, Matt Kruger.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
“Transfer starts the moment you walk into college.” — Alicia


Ruby Murillo

TRIO Advisor

Ruby Murillo
TRIO has a very special place in my heart as I was a TRIO student for over 10 years. I was raised by two parents who completed a third grade education in Mexico. They have worked labor-intensive jobs their whole lives. My parents know very little English and almost nothing about higher education, but they made sure to push and encourage me to ask questions and pursue a career that would give be a better lifestyle than theirs.

I was lucky to run into TRIO in the sixth grade; it was exactly what I needed to make it through middle school, high school, college and graduate school. As a TRIO student, I had the opportunity to work with advisors who believed in my potential before I even knew I had it. I started learning about the field of student affairs when I became a peer mentor for the TRIO SSS program at Iowa State.

Ruby MurilloThrough TRIO I learned about and attended multiple social justice-related conferences; it was then where I found my purpose and decided to pursue a career in Student Affairs. I knew I wanted to serve underrepresented students and provide them with educational opportunities and empower them to break down barriers presented by systemic oppression. Throughout my graduate program, I was determined to start my career working with TRIO in order to give back to an organization that invested so much in me.

As a TRIO advisor, I have the privilege of working with students whom I get to learn from every single day. I learn about their values, cultures and aspirations. Together we are able to tailor their experiences as we find opportunities that will help them achieve their goals. From the amount of hours worked, to family values and obligations, to the amount of credits taken; all things are considered as I help students find the next step in their academic and personal journey.

​My philosophy is to first get to know my students so that I know what they need. I believe in individuality and value the multiple dimensions of a person’s identity before providing any kind of guidance. Once I learn about my students, it is easier to provide them with resources and opportunities. I make an honest effort to empower my students by helping them believe in themselves and show them where their potential can take them.

When I was a counselor for a TRIO Upward Bound program, I worked with a high school student who was disengaged from the program. I talked to him and tried to understand why he didn’t want to be in the program and why he was having such a hard time grasping the course material.

Together we found reasons as to why the program was important for the goals he had and then found new study methods that worked for him. He went from getting zeros on his exams to getting perfect scores by the end of the program! He was a sophomore at the time and just last week I got a text message from him inviting me to his graduation in June. I am so proud of him!

I wish TRIO could serve all students on campus but we can only serve 140 due to the size of our grant and the services we provide. If you want to see where you can go and need a little direction to get there, you should be in TRIO!

TRIO student spotlights

Fifi Kifle
Fifi Kifle

Fifi Kifle


Age: 20
High school and year graduated: Henry Sibley High School Class of 2014
Hometown: Bokoji, Ethiopia; moved to U.S. in 2008 to be with her mom
Current city or town of residence: West St. Paul, Minnesota
Program and degree area at Inver Hills: Associate of Arts (A.A.); graduated spring 2016

Fifi KifleTransfer plans: University of Minnesota to pursue her B.S. in Human Resource Development; plans to go on and earn a master’s degree in social science
Career plans: Looking forward to a career in corporate HR; “It’s what I want and I know I’ll love the work.”
What do you like best about Inver Hills? “Inver has many resources for a small college—and Inver should be recognized for that work.”
Why did you choose your career path? “I like working with people. I volunteer at my church and nonprofits, including Feed My Starving Children.”
What has been your toughest challenge in life? “My mom sheltered me from facing the world and taking responsibility. I want that responsibility.”
What do you most want to accomplish in life? “I want to be happy with what I have.”
Three words that describe you as a college student: Diligent. Motivated. Perseverant.
How did TRIO SSS enhance your college experience? Financially and academically, TRIO has been there for me from the beginning when I didn’t know what was going. TRIO was my first guide at college.”
What TRIO SSS activity or event did you enjoy the most? Summer Bridge; made a lot of new friends
What will you miss most about TRIO SSS? “The help and motivation I received. Plus the updates from the advisors.”
What would you tell a student who’s thinking about participating in TRIO SSS? “You need it. Trust me.”

Jenni Horgen
Jenni Horgen

Jenni Horgen

Student Life Coordinator at Inver Hills

Age: 27
High school and year graduated: Academy for Sciences & Agriculture (ASFA) in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota
Hometown: Avon, Minnesota
Current city or town of residence: Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
Program and degree area at Inver Hills: Associate of Arts (A.A.); graduated spring 2016

Jenni HorgenTransfer plans: Metropolitan State to pursue Bachelor of Social Work with plans to go on and earn her Master of Social Work
Career plans: Stay in higher education and become a dean
What do you like best about Inver Hills? “The people. Everybody was so nice and always walked me where I wanted to go.”
Why did you choose your career path? “My job as a student life coordinator at Inver Hills changed everything. I like the freedom and opportunity in higher ed. I like that I can turn my knowledge of sociology into a career.”
What has been your toughest challenge in life? Trying to make it work when she was a pregnant co-ed; Jenni has two children, Hayden, 5, and Ren, 10 months
What do you most want to accomplish in life? Earn her M.S.W.
Three words that describe you as a college student: Procrastinator. Thorough. Creative.
How did TRIO SSS enhance your college experience? “TRIO gave me such a clear vision of when I would be done with school. You’re not just a number. The advisors care about you as a person.”
What TRIO SSS activity or event did you enjoy the most? Mardi Gras event
What will you miss most about TRIO SSS? The people
What would you tell a student who’s thinking about participating in TRIO SSS? “You have to do it.”

For TRIO SSS certificate photos, visit Inver Hills on Flickr by clicking the image below:

TRIO Student Support Services

To learn more about TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills, contact:

Matt Kruger
TRIO Student Support Services Director
Travelers EDGE Director

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