All News

Spartans of UD - Grace Mangrich

By University Relations Staff

Spartans of UD highlights what makes the University of Dubuque special - the people.

Grace Mangrich, MA, is the assistant director and advisor of TRIO-Student Support Services at UD. TRIO-SSS is a federally funded program that offers academic, personal, financial, and career support to eligible students.

How does TRIO-SSS support and empower students?

"We intentionally build programming to be high-contact, allowing us to create relationships with our students that encourage reciprocity. We're invested in them just as much as they've invested in us. Over the last few years, we've adopted a sort of motto of 'accountability is an act of love.' Building strong relationships with our students allows us to create that balance between support and empowerment. It's a safe space to land and a gentle push when needed, especially when we are seeing they can achieve much more than where they're at. Our students are not only getting the opportunity to grow academic skills and connect with other students, but to grow as humans too."

In addition to academic advising, individual mentoring, and peer and professional tutoring, TRIO-SSS provides students opportunities to attend a variety of workshops and events. Why is it critical to offer students those programming opportunities outside of the one-on-one student meetings?

"TRIO-SSS programming allows our participants to do two things: 1. connect with students who have similar backgrounds and challenges and 2. grow their knowledge and skills in a space designed specifically for them. These low stake spaces with professional staff they trust helps them to build skills without necessarily realizing it. Skills like being able to engage with a presenter, managing time and priorities to decide which programming is important for them to attend, being challenged in a group setting to speak up, and creating connections with others. These programs give TRIO students the chance to learn from their peers, other UD faculty/staff, and community members, and to enhance their overall experience at UD outside of the individual connections they make."

What is the most important aspect of TRIO-SSS you want students to know about?

"The support system. We pitch our program as a support person specifically designed to be here for you through whatever college may throw your way. That connection isn't something that can be understated. Not only are we content experts in supporting underrepresented students, we know a little about a lot when it comes to navigating life at UD and empower our TRIO students to be engaged in similar ways. Our students also know that we are always going to show up authentically and model healthy and intentional behavior for them."

How has your experience with TRIO-SSS impacted you?

"How it hasn't impacted me might be a shorter list. Working with this program has encouraged me to grow in an incredible number of ways. Not only do TRIO programs prioritize professional development, but the team I've been able to work with, Melissa Huekels and Katie Bailey, has been invaluable and allowed me to really invest in myself these last few years. I'm a better, more emotionally intelligent and educated person because of this program. In addition to that, the relationships I have with my students change me for the better every day. These are individuals I spend a lot of time with and get to watch grow over their time as a student. Those moments of success, challenge, and growth are experiences I will always carry with me. I hope they know how much I care for and appreciate each of them."

In your opinion, what makes the University of Dubuque unique?

"Programs like this. Having access to a program dedicated from the federal level to supporting our most marginalized populations and the trained staff that comes along with that is incredible. The TRIO-SSS grant competition is incredibly competitive and the opportunity to have a program like this shouldn't go unnoticed. Having been a first-generation and low-income student myself, I wish I would've known about opportunities like TRIO-SSS on the campuses I was visiting. UD being able to host a TRIO-SSS program on campus and provide this type of specific support is unique to our students and becomes a staple when recruiting underrepresented students compared to like-institutions."

Click here for more information about TRIO-SSS.