Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair

Chad M. Okrusch

First Advisor

Matthew Haynes

Second Advisor

Joel Graff


TRIO is a federally funded program put into place to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds reach postsecondary education. Southwest Montana TRIO assists Helena High School, Capital High School, Anaconda High School, and Butte High School. Helena, Anaconda, and Butte share similar demographics. Because of this, one might expect that the academic success rates would be fairly similar. My research indicates there are in fact significant differences. In order to best assist the schools assisted by Southwest Montana TRIO it is important to understand why differences are taking place. By using the U.S Department of Education standards to back this up and using and using mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative research the differences were more easily identified. These differences could be attributed to measurable aspects such as financial stability, families academic history, and the lack of a consistent program coordinator. Differences could also be attributed to nonmeasurable aspects such as personal struggles, lack of motivation, or if a student is only incentive driven meaning they are only involved with the program for the many perks that come along with it. My research indicates that all of these factors partly contribute to a student’s success in achieving TRIO’s goals, or failing to do so. Each student faces struggles often only known to them. Knowing this, it is up to the people of TRIO to adapt and find the next route of action to take with each student in order to help them find their success. It is up to those people to make the difference and having a great understanding that struggles happen.


A non-thesis research paper submitted as partial degree of requirements for the degree of Masters of Interdisciplinary Studies.