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Nerem-Lowery to head Iowa TRIO

Programs are designed to address the ‘war on poverty’

December 5, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Kris Nerem-Lowery, Iowa Central Community College TRIO coordinator, is now president of Iowa TRIO.

Nerem-Lowery has been with TRIO at Iowa Central for more than six years, and five years in Sioux City prior. As part of Iowa Central's student support services, she helps provide tutoring for its students and advice on transfers and career plans, basically "working with individuals to feel good about themselves so they can be successful."

She said she is honored to be state president.

"It's kind of humbling and amazing all at the same time," she said. "It's a great honor to be able to serve the professionals that represent TRIO for the state of Iowa, and also to be an advocate for the students we serve. It's a big deal for me."

TRIO is a federally funded program that began in 1954 and that grew into a bigger program in 1965, Nerem-Lowery said.

"The programs were designed to address the war on poverty," she said. "During that time, through the Higher Education Act, they developed the TRIO program to attract the students who were sort of the low-income, first-generation students or students with disabilities."

Starting with three programs, TRIO has expanded to now have seven programs and serve more than 850,000 students throughout the United States.

Iowa TRIO is a professional organization for all the people who work in TRIO programs throughout the state of Iowa, Nerem-Lowery said, and belongs to a regional program called the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel, which includes 10 states.

"As the representative for Iowa, I attend the regional meetings and help the region make decisions on how we want to manage our TRIO programs, how we want to make them better, how to continue to serve the students we have with less money each year," she said. "Because we are federally funded, through the Department of Education, all TRIO programs are at risk all the time of federal cuts."

Nerem-Lowery said her favorite aspect of TRIO is the students themselves.

"I love helping them," she said. "I love assisting them in their everyday success. It's nice to see students come in and ask for assistance, and we help them and then see them succeed in whatever they're doing. It's great to see them walk across the stage and graduate. It's great to see them transfer to a four-year school and continue their education. It's nice to have them come back and say, 'Hey, I got this degree.' That's our ultimate goal, for them to receive their higher education."

TRIO has been a great benefit to the community college's students, Nerem-Lowery said.

"TRIO works," she said. "It's succeeded over the years and continues to make a huge impact on students who typically don't have a voice and are under-represented. That's why we work really, really hard to make sure we help them succeed."

Nerem-Lowery began her term as president last month.

"When you're elected, you serve three years of the term. You serve one year as president elect, one year as president, and one year as past president," she said. "I served my president-elect last year and so my term started on Nov. 16. So I'm new. It's pretty exciting."

Dan Kinney, Iowa Central president, said Nerem-Lowery is an excellent choice for the position.

"TRIO programs across the nation are just amazing in how they help students, and Kris is definitely worthy of that honor to become that regional president," he said. "She does an outstanding job with the students here, and I know in that position she's going to continue to help build TRIO not only here at Iowa Central but also across the state and the nation."

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or



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