Like many high school students, Mike Mpiana was deciding the next steps he would take. “It was my dad who helped me put together my goals, and I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

Mike moved to the Chicago area in 2018 from Toronto, Ontario and took some computer classes in high school. “They were challenging, but in time I was becoming more familiar, and I was really getting into them.”

While he believed computer science would be a good fit for him, he had a degree of uncertainty, so he started at Moraine Valley. “I did have some skills to work with computers, but I wanted to be sure that’s what I wanted to do. And I felt I shouldn’t go away to school right away. It was a matter of waiting so I wouldn’t have spent too much money, and I could find out if I’m really serious about computers,” he said.

Another step in the right direction was using TRIO Student Support Services at Moraine Valley. TRIO provides first-generation, low-income and disabled students the tools to stay in college, as well as personal development and academic support to help students graduate from Moraine Valley and transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree.

“I think being involved at school helped me a lot. I’ve learned so much being in TRIO, like how to choose the right classes, manage my time better, and how to stay focused and on track. I didn’t know Moraine Valley had programs like that,” said Mike, who upon graduation from Moraine Valley plans to transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I really like the way the college is set up to encourage you and push you in a positive way to do better, he said. “Being involved with TRIO, I saw that the more time you spend at school and get involved, the more you take your classwork seriously.”