University of South Florida


latrell pryor laughs with two other young men at a BRUH meeting

USF student gives back what he received from Student Support Services

By Donna Smith, University Communications and Marketing

Always pay it forward: That’s what LaTrell Pryor always heard as he grew up in a home full of extended family. His grandparents, aunts and mom were there beside him, offering support whenever needed. Pryor, now a junior at USF studying industrial engineering, credits his college success to the help he received from Student Support Services, a federally funded program that offers academic and personal support to students who need a little extra help getting acclimated to college life.

Latrell, wearing cap and gown, poses with his mother at his high school graduation.

Pryor and his great aunt, Saundra Penson, at his graduation from Olympia High School in 2019.

“SSS was definitely a game changer,” Pryor said. “I'm a first-generation student, so I don't really have anyone to tell me how to do it. My family supports me and wants me to do great, but they don't really have any advice. I knew that I wanted to go to school, but I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for SSS reaching out to me.”

SSS provides many different types of services, including individualized academic advising, counseling, coaching, financial aid assistance, enrichment programs and workshops that focus on careers, academics, self-confidence and more. Benefits begin with a summer program, which is free to all students who complete the FAFSA and meet low-income requirements. New SSS students spend that first summer at USF living in a residence hall on campus, where they get to know their cohort, as well as their advisors and peer counselors. They take classes focusing on college readiness, and if they end the term with a 2.0 GPA or higher, then they can continue to the fall semester.

Pryor says that when fall classes began, that’s when being a part of the SSS group became even more important.

“I was like, ‘Wow! This is a lot going on, a lot of people, and now I have to figure out where all my classes are’,” Pryor said. “That was a crazy experience, but we held each other up and if we had questions, we knew who to ask.”    

Pryor has not only succeeded at USF, but once he began to join clubs and organizations, he created a space to help others do so as well. He was key in making Brothers Reaching Ultimate Heights an official campus organization and serves as a USF Ambassador – one of the most prestigious appointments a student can earn, serving as a link between students, alumni and the community.

three young men talk and laugh at a meeting

Pryor and fellow SSS students hold a meeting.

Pryor, who will graduate in May 2025, offers tutoring in algebra and calculus to make a little pocket money, and he serves as a peer counselor for incoming SSS students, showing them the ropes and encouraging them to fully dedicate themselves to the program.

“My mom always says that if someone shows you how to do something, you should show someone else,” Pryor said.

The program has proven successful for many like Pryor. For the 2022-2023 academic year, SSS students achieved a 98 percent persistence rate, with 98 percent remaining in good academic standing. SSS Program Director LaTosha Thomas says Pryor is the embodiment of the SSS spirit.

“LaTrell has trusted the process by staying connected with his SSS peers and advisors,” Thomas said. “It has been a pleasure watching him grow into his potential and become a leader on campus.”

More information about the SSS program can be found here.

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