Looking to better his career, 59-year-old Jeff Savoie turned to Laurel Ridge two years ago. He had been working as a maintenance ranger at a local state park when a coworker who had completed Laurel Ridge’s recreation and outdoor leadership program strongly suggested he do the same.
The Linden resident enrolled, intending to complete the certificate program with a plan towards moving up in the parks service, where he had worked as a maintenance ranger.
“But, I realized there was more I could do,” said Savoie, who decided he should earn his associate degree. “Now, I’m a work study in the TRIO office. I’m at a point where I think I belong in the community college environment.”
TRIO provides additional advising and other support services to students who are first-generation college students, or low income, or have a documented disability. Savoie is a client in the program, in addition to working for it.
Not only has he benefited from all of the support TRIO can provide, Savoie, who has been experiencing homelessness, has been using the food pantry on campus, and received help in paying for his storage unit from the Laurel Ridge Educational Foundation.
“I would have lost what I had left of my belongings had I not gotten that assistance,” he said. “(TRIO advisor) Ashley Jay made it happen that day. That shows how awesome Ashley is. She has been my advisor the whole way through. She is my role model.
“One of my fellow TRIO students says, ‘I love to come here to the TRIO lounge because I feel like I belong and can get the help that I need.’”
Savoie, who grew up in the state of Washington, works 20 hours a week in the TRIO office. However, he will often stay around off the clock to help his fellow students.
Last June, Savoie earned his certificate in recreation and outdoor leadership. He earned his degree with the specialization in May – and was named the program’s Outstanding Graduate for 2022. His favorite professor is Stacey Ellis, the program lead of health, physical education, and recreation at Laurel Ridge.
“She takes care of us like we’re her own,” Savoie said. “I think the breadth of the program is enormous. We are so well set up to succeed. That’s all Professor Ellis’s doing.”
Learn more about the TRIO program at www.laurelridge.edu/trio.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.