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SCC receives renewed federal grant money for TRiO program

SYLVA – The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded Southwestern Community College a $1.6 million grant in continued funding for the TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) program.

Since first receiving the grant in 1990, SCC’s program has served more than 2,000 students – significantly boosting SCC’s graduation and transfer rates.

This grant will fund the program for an additional five years.

“We’re extremely grateful that the U.S. Department of Education will continue funding this program, which has touched and continues to touch the lives of so many students,” said SCC President Dr. Don Tomas. “The amount of academic, financial and personal development resources provided by SSS is invaluable to such a significant population of our students. During these times, our students need all the support we can provide, and this is a key part of that support.”

Led by Dominique Barwatt, SCC’s Student Support Services program serves eligible students who are either first-generation college students, meet income eligibility criteria or have a documented disability.

Students in the program have access to academic advising and free tutoring, supplemental grant aid and scholarships, assistance transferring to four-year institutions including campus visits, career counseling, personal enrichment programs including outdoor adventure activities and community service opportunities, and other support necessary for educational access, retention and completion.

“We are so lucky to work with our students beginning at orientation and through their time at SCC, making sure they walk across the stage at graduation,” said Barwatt. “Through these well-designed resources that are backed by the most dedicated employees, we get to build strong relationships with our students to support them academically and professionally. Facing the challenges of COVID-19, these relationships are more important than ever.”

For more information about SCC’s Student Support Services program, visit or call 828-339-4420.


For more than 50 years, Southwestern Community College has served Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties, and the Qualla Boundary by offering a wide range of educational options for residents in all stages of life.  SCC has been ranked No. 1 by in its listing of “The Best Community Colleges & Trade Schools of 2020,” marking the fourth time in the past 15 years Southwestern has ranked among the nation’s Top 10 community colleges. SCC provides a supportive learning environment and more than 40 degree programs in Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences/College Transfer and Career Technologies.  SCC also offers a variety of community resources, including the Small Business Center, Workforce Continuing Education and Career Services.

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