TRIO students and Beth Jacobson
Pedersen (left), Jacobson (middle) and Bocock (second from right) attended the Council for Opportunity in Education Policy Seminar in Washington D.C. in March 2024.

The number of times Beth Jacobson has coordinated the annual meetings between TRIO and Nebraska state senators and representatives in Washington D.C. is in the double digits. 

The meetings are part of a broader trip that involves attending the Council for Opportunity in Education Policy Seminar. Nebraska usually has a small TRIO group attend every year. 

Jacobson is the state representative for Nebraska’s chapter of TRIO, a federal program that provides support services to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Doane has received the federal TRIO grant for more than 35 years. It funds multiple programs within Doane’s Academic Success Center.

As executive director of academic support services at Doane, Jacobson works closely with TRIO students at the university. So when the opportunity arose for students to accompany her on the trip, she knew who to ask.

Senior Tasha Pedersen and junior Jordan Bocock accompanied Jacobson and Sarah Aguirre, director of TRIO student support services grant program at Southeast Community College after spring break in March.

“Taking the students this year was amazing! I have only been one time where students were able to attend,” Jacobson said. “The staffers were much more attentive in listening to the students' stories and how TRIO SSS (Student Support Services) has impacted their lives and educational journeys.” 

executive director of academic support services at Doane Beth Jacobson, and two Doane students pose for a photo outside the U.S. Capitol Building
The group visited with Nebraska state representatives to share their stories of how TRIO impacts their lives.

Bocock was a foster kid and is a first-generation student. The academic success center staff have served life changing roles in her collegiate career, during which she experienced a pregnancy and then losing her newborn son due to a heart condition. Anita Harkins, the former executive director of student support services at Doane, hosted a gender reveal. They still text each other occasionally. Blake Tobey, an academic specialist, “has gone above and beyond” for her with academic planning support.

In between bicycle rides across Washington D.C. and stopping at monuments, Bocock was more than happy to share her experience as a TRIO student with Capitol Hill staffers.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to represent TRIO, tell my story as a student, and showcase the importance of programs that empower students to succeed,” Bocock said.

Jacobson secured partial funding for Pedersen and Bocock’s trip through the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Chapter of the Educational Opportunity Association. The majority of her trip was covered through the federal TRIO grant.