Elizabeth Follis, a UTC student, and Dr. Bryan Samuel, UTC Director of Equity and Diversity, were honored at a regional conference for the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP). Both were nominated by Shirl Gholston, UTC Director of Student Support Services.

Elizabeth Follis

Follis received a SAEOPP scholarship to study abroad this July. She will travel to France to explore the culture and language. Follis, a French major, will be staying with a host family in Angers.

“Student Support Services has always been very supportive of me and always willing to help me out with whatever I may need,” she said.

Samuel was given a TRIO Achiever award. To qualify for the award, a person must be of high stature in his/her field, have made a significant civic, community or personal contribution, and be a former participant in the TRIO program.

The TRIO programs are educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Samuel, has fond memories of the TRIO program during his time at UTC as an undergraduate.

Dr. Bryan Samuel and Shirl Gholston

“TRIO is a wonderful program. It helps students with diverse backgrounds and stories get the support they need for free,” he said. “It made all the difference to a student like me.”

According to Gholston, UTC has the most representation at the conference of all the universities and colleges that attended from an eight-state region. Participants included Gholston, Melissa Laseter, tutor coordinator, and Chris Stokes, academic specialist. Laseter and Stokes were selected to attend Emerging Leaders Institute. The institute is designed to shape future TRIO leaders and prepare participants for involvement in their state and regional associations.

“I am so proud of my staff,” Gholston said. “They are dedicated to the program and very adamant about receiving additional training to retain UTC students.”

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