Sam Turcotte

Equinox Staff


Kristin Sweeney Moore, director of TRIO Programs at Keene State College, stated her mission as helping all KSC students make it through their chosen programs

“We’re all about getting students into Keene State College and keeping them here, and getting them through the degree program,” Sweeney Moore said.

This describes the Aspire Program, located in the Elliot Center. The program “provides students with academic support services designed to enhance success,” according to its mission statement.

Sweeney Moore explained, “It’s a blended program which means that the majority of the funds come from the federal government.”

Sweeney Moore continued, “It is part of the TRIO program…and it is all about creating access and opportunity for students to pursue and obtain secondary degrees.”

Aspire works to get involved with the KSC community and to help enhance their success as students. With their available programs such as peer tutoring, Aspire is helps better KSC students.

The program is well known for its disability services. “Students who have a documented disability can come in and receive additional supports,” Sweeney Moore said.

But some students are not aware that this is not all that Aspire offers; Aspire welcomes all to use its services.

“There’s been a big misconception for years and years from the fact that we used to be one program,” Maria Dintino, associate director of Aspire and Link Coordinator, said about the reason why students may believe Aspire is solely for students with disabilities.

The disability services are separate from the programs offered for all students with the Aspire Program.

“So there’s this weird confusion about what it [means] to be an Aspire student,” she said.

Regarding the availability of Aspire, Sweeney Moore said, “There are multiple components to the services offered at Aspire such as tutoring and supplemental instruction for everyone… but some of the academic support programs are specifically for TRIO eligible students.” TRIO is simply educational access for disadvantaged students. “I have never seen anyone turned away at the door [for help]…they seem to make it happen for anyone who finds us,” Sweeney Moore said.

Sweeney Moore explained how many students don’t realize that there are a wide range of services here aside from the popularly used tutoring.

She said, “There are educational counselors here who meet one on one with students and they help them with time management skills [and] with study skills.”

“It’s like teaching someone how to fish rather than handing them a fish,” Dintino explained about the strategies used at the Aspire center, “You teach them how to become a stronger, more engaged, efficient student.”

Dintino said, “We will work with them [the students] on strategies, because I think a lot of students come into college with certain ways of approaching their academics, and a lot of times they find that that isn’t quite working anymore. So we are just giving them some new tools.”

But that isn’t the extent of Aspire; there are even more uses available for all students on campus.

“They [counselors] help them [students] with long range planning as far as advising goes, and they help them pursue graduate programs, and help with resumes” Sweeney Moore said.

“They also help look at financial literacy things such as your financial aid package, and scholarships,” Sweeney Moore said.

Aspire is the place to go when any KSC student is in need of academic or financial guidance.

Courtney Hartwell, a sophomore at KSC studying exercise science is one of the students who uses the Aspire Program services.

“I work here at the front desk, and I’ve taken advantage of the tutoring a lot,” Hartwell said.

But that isn’t the only program that has helped her academic career.

The Aspire Program helped Hartwell advance as a student even before her KSC journey began.

She explained, “When I came here, the summer before my freshman year, I was in the Link Program—it is a six week program that gives you nine credits to earn before you even become a student.”

The KSC website defines Link’s purpose as: “to expose students to the academic and social expectations of college in a supportive learning community.”

“It’s [Link] a really good jump start on your college education,” Sweeney Moore said.

Aspire’s services may not be known to all KSC students, but they are still useful for many.

“They have served about 600 students this semester,” Sweeney Moore explained, “so even though we’re not that well known on campus, the students that know us know us well.”

“I know a lot of kids don’t know about it [Aspire services],” Hartwell said on the matter of the program’s lack of notoriety, “But I tell my friends that are stressing out about classes, or anything…they [Aspire counselors] can help!”

Aside from all of the services in the Elliot Center on campus, Aspire even brings its programs to the dorms. Every month, there are workshops for all to join about different themes that reach out to help students. The workshops “give good strategies to get through whatever the hot topic of the month is,” Sweeney Moore said.

September offered students a time management workshop, October was for study skills, and this month will be about managing stress.

Aspire is a program on campus whose ongoing efforts are reaching out to students in need of any academic guidance.

Whether you have some sort of disability which affects how you learn, you just need a tutor or maybe a little guidance with how to manage your time, Aspire remains the place to go.


              Sam Turcotte can be contacted at


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