University of Southern Indiana

On the Bookshelf: Pryor and students explore challenges and triumphs

On the Bookshelf: Pryor and students explore challenges and triumphs

10/12/2018 | University Communications
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Aaron Pryor, Student Support Services academic counselor, Heather Bauer, Student Support Services program director, and 14 USI students and alumni can now add “published author” to their resumes.

Pryor was first inspired to publish TRIO Tenacity: Stories of Student Success, after attending a conference for Trio Programs, which are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Student Support Services program self-published their own publication, Every Student Has a Story, comprised of 18 personal narratives from first-generation college students. Pryor knew immediately he had to execute a similar project within USI’s program.

When he started formulating how he wanted to implement the project, he wanted each student to have the opportunity to be involved. He provided all interested students the same writing prompt, “Tell of a challenging experience that’s influenced your college journey, and how you grew in response.” He wanted to make sure they not only shared their struggles, but also their strengths. “We wanted all of our stories to be a beacon of hope for other individuals,” he said. “Every student talked about a variety of struggles and then how they grew as an individual because of those challenges.”

TRIO Tenacity: Stories of Student Success is comprised of 14 personal stories written by USI students and alumni, and two stories from Student Support Services staff members, Pryor and Bauer. Students and staff covered topics ranging from trying to pick a major, to feeling first-generation guilt, and many challenges in between.

Although Pryor is the credited author of TRIO Tenacity: Stories of Student Success, he doesn’t take all the credit, himself. A lot goes into publishing a book, and he had a lot of assistance behind-the-scenes when it came to moving through the publishing process. “That’s been one of our biggest challenges, just making sure that we went about everything the right way,” he said.

One of Pryor’s biggest helps was Deanna Odney, writing specialist in Academic Skills. She held writing circles throughout the year and students were able to come together and receive feedback on their developing stories. Kindra Strupp, vice president for Marketing and Communications, and John Farless, director of University Communications, also played a vital role in the publishing process. They ensured that all of the legal information for publishing was taken care of. The business office and the bursar dealt with funding and made sure the book was accessible to the USI population. Pryor credits Karen Lenfestey, Purdue University Fort Wayne academic coordinator, as his go-to person throughout the publishing process.

Pryor hopes that his publication instills an unshakable confidence in these students to share their experiences, and to be proud of their immense growth. “I think everyone is an expert in their own journey, so this publication reinforced that idea that you have something valuable to share with others,” said Pryor.

He hopes to share his influential publication with UNIV classes in the future. He wants other students to read, reflect and connect with these stories so that they can get the inspiration to rise above their own challenges, too.

TRIO Tenacity: Stories of Student Success is available for purchase through Amazon

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Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia

Aaron Pryor (standing, seconding from right) and other authors from TRIO Tenacity: Stories of Student Success.

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