‘At-risk’ student is back on track to getting her college degree thanks to local community college program

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MACOMB, Ill. (WMBD) — Trinity Brock is a first-generation college student at the Macomb Area Campus of Spoon River College. She navigates a full course load, a full-time job, the trauma from childhood sexual assault, mental health issues, ADHD and a recent bipolar diagnosis.

“When I was 16, I don’t think I saw myself living past 18. And I think making it to 20 has been a big milestone,” Brock said. “Everything that I’ve accomplished in the last year, I didn’t see happening.”

Brock said her definition of success is a college degree and a job where she can do well.

“To me, success is helping people,” she said.

But success does not come easy. Her road has been fraught with adversity, and it started to reflect in her grades at school.

“The very first semester that I met Trinity, she was on academic probation here at the college,” said Abby Beck, TRiO Project Advisor and Student Activities Coordinator for Spoon River College Macomb Area Campus.

But Brock knew because of the staff around her at school, she could get access to resources.

“One of the qualities that I would say she has that maybe a lot of students don’t have- or maybe she didn’t have at the beginning- was reaching out and asking for help,” Beck said.

The TRiO Student Center at Spoon River College is designed to help at-risk students graduate and get their degrees.

“Them believing in me has definitely helped, even when I didn’t believe in myself,” Brock said.

As a child, Trinity’s father was never in the picture and her mother suffered from substance abuse disorder. Additionally, she was sexually assaulted as a child by a member of her family.

“Of all the trauma that I’ve endured, I don’t know the full story,” she said. “I only get bits and pieces of it. And I think that’s the only thing that bothers me: not knowing what truly happened. Only knowing some parts of it.”

In her family, it had always been swept under the rug by other relatives, and it took a lot of time to heal, but she no longer carries any guilt or shame.

“I’ve never been quiet about them. I’ve always talked about them,” she said. “I’ve never been afraid of the repercussions about that because I didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t my fault.” 

Eventually, Brock’s mother left her.

 “She’s been in and out my whole life. She comes and goes as she pleases,” she said. “We never had a good relationship, [and] we don’t speak to this day. I don’t have anything to say to her. I’m sure she doesn’t have anything to say to me.”

Despite this difficult circumstance, she knew she wasn’t alone.

“And not having that support system at home, I had to get that from outside of home,” she said.

She credits a teacher from high school for helping her graduate and move on to college. And at Spoon River College, she was able to find mentors as well.

“Our whole goal in Trio is to help serve students who are maybe considered ‘at-risk’ students,” Beck said.

And while it is far from over, Brock’s journey is turning out to be a success story.

She is currently a sophomore at Spoon River and plans on getting her Associates’s Degree and transferring to Western Illinois University.

Brock is interested in politics and social work, but right now she is aiming to be a high school history teacher because she feels she can make an impact in that role.

“As long as I’m in some type of field that I can help people, and even if I just impact one person, then that’s what makes that field fine for me,” she said.

Helping students is something she’ll have to deal with every day.

“She knows that there’s still a lot of work ahead of her,” Beck said. “But, I think she’s very excited for that work also.”

Brock said her biggest obstacle right now is navigating her new mental health diagnosis. She said she only received the diagnosis and accompanying medication in October of this year, and now has to work to learn about herself.

Now, Brock’s goal is to help girls and women who have been through some of the things she has dealt with in her life.

“I definitely want to help kids who struggle mentally and don’t have the resources or the support at home,” she said.

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