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TRIO Programs

Our Staff

The TRIO Programs team is ready to help you. We're happy to assist with your questions and concerns.

 

Althea Counts

Althea Counts

Director
Email: countsa@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5125

About Me: Originally from Tryon, North Carolina, I finished high school in Inman, South Carolina.  I have worked with TRIO and GEAR UP Programs for over 25 years. I was a first-generation and low-income student at the University, so I have a clear understanding of what our students face when they go to college. I have one daughter, Morgan, who is also my sorority sister, and one sweet dog, Kendi.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Economics and M.Ed. in Student Personnel Services, Higher Education, from the University of South Carolina

Length of Time at USC: 18 years

Althea Counts

Floyd  Coffey

Opportunity Scholars Program Advisor and Retention Specialist
Email: coffeyf@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5125

About Me: I am from Tillatoba, Mississippi. I attended Eastern Kentucky University (EKU)! I have mentored and advised student athletes as the Life Skills Coach at EKU. I love to play basketball, hike and watch Netflix in my free time.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Sports Management and M.S. in Sports Administration, from Eastern Kentucky University

Length of Time at USC:  3 years

Geneva Currie

Geneva Currie

Administrative Coordinator
Email: gcurrie@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5014

About Me: I am a retired 20-year Army veteran and single mother of two beautiful adult children: Airese, a graduate of Clemson University and Kokeya, a graduate of Shaw University. I am also "Nana" to six energetic grandkids who keep me young and on my toes.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Organizational Management from Voorhees College and recently completed an M.A. in Human Resource Management from Webster University. It’s never too late to get that degree!

Length of Time at USC: 16 years

Dorlisa Damon

Dorlisa Damon

Educational Talent Search Advisor
Email: damond@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-3817

About Me: I am married to Shawn Damon, a Claflin University alumnus. Together, we have three amazing children who love story time, singing, and dancing. I love singing, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. I have worked as a TRIO professional for 10 years. 

Education/Major(s): M.A. in Educational Policy and Leadership from Ohio State University; B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences Business from South Carolina State University

Length of Time at USC:  5 years   

Rhonda Davenport

Rhonda Davenport

Program Assistant
Email: rhondad@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5127

About Me: Innovation and energy are two skills I possess and utilize in my professional and personal life. I am the proud mother of Ebony and Ditrell as well as the grandmother of Daniel Jr. (DJ). In my spare time, I enjoy cleaning, traveling and shopping.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration with a concentration in Human Services from University of Phoenix

Length of Time at USC:   4 years

Pinkney Epps

Pinkney Epps

Assistant TRIO Director/Opportunity Scholars Program 
Email: eppsp@mailbox.sc.edu  
Phone803-777-5125 

About Me: I am originally from Kingstree, South Carolina and I am an alumnus of the Williamsburg Technical College Upward Bound Program.

Education/Major(s): Dual B.S. in Physics and Electrical Engineering Technology from South Carolina State University; M.P.H. in Public Health – Health Promotion, Education and Behavior Programs from University of South Carolina – Columbia; and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Argosy University

Length of Time at USC: 15 years. I returned to USC in 2018, after a 10-year hiatus.

Marquita Gaines

Marquita Gaines

Upward Bound Academic Coordinator
Email: mgaines2@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone803-777-51257

About Me: I have worked in academia assisting low-income and first-generation students with their educational pursuits for the past thirteen years. As a first-generation student and Columbia, South Carolina native, I look forward to the opportunity to change the lives of students in the area every day. In my personal time, I love to cook, travel, and spend quality time with my husband, family, and friends.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration from Clemson University; Master of Business Administration/HR Management from the University of Phoenix

Length of Time at USC: 2 years

Sterling Hicks

Sterling Hicks

Educational Talent Search Advisor
Email:  hickssd2@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone
: 803-777-5127

About Me:I was born and raised in the small city of Walterboro, South Carolina. I joined the United States Marine Corps in 2012 and shortly after, I began work within local communities to coach and mentor at risk youth. My greatest accomplishment in life has been, and will always be, taking part in the positive transformation of the lives of our future leaders.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Criminal Justice with Concentration in Juvenile Delinquency and Leadership Distinction in Diversity and Social Advocacy, from University of South Carolina.

Length of Time at USC: 1 year

 
Sharon Lee-White

Sharon Lee White

Assistant TRIO Director/Ronald E. McNair Program 
Email: leesg@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5198

About Me: I have two adult children, Ciera, and Julian. I am also "YaYa" to my three energetic grandchildren. I am an avid reader and ID TV addict. I have come full circle with the McNair Scholars Program.  After returning to Carolina in 2000 to finish my undergraduate degree as a non-traditional student, I was selected as a McNair Scholar in 2001. While in graduate school I served as the Graduate Assistant for the McNair Scholars Program, and in 2014 became the director. I credit the McNair Scholars Program for showing me that a first-generation student from a low-income background CAN earn a doctorate. My own experience, coupled with research and best practices, informs how I work with each new cohort of McNair Scholars.

Education/Major(s): B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations; M.Ed. in Community and Adult Programs in Education; Graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies; and Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Race, Class, and Gender Studies, all from University of South Carolina

Length of Time at USC: I first came to Carolina straight out of high school in the late 1970s and stopped out for 17 years in the years.  I have been back since 2000 (including undergrad and graduate school and working as an adjunct professor). I have been in my current position for five years.

Lauren Mills

Lauren Mills

Educational Talent Search Advisor
Email:  lm41@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone
: 803-777-5150

About Me: I am originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, and Starbucks. I am an enthusiastic and dedicated Advisor that will be by your side every step of the way.

Education/Major(s): B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Currently seeking M.P.A with concentration in Nonprofit Organizations from University of Illinois-Springfield.

 Length of Time at USC: 1 year

DaWayne Nettles

DaWayne Nettles

Upward Bound College Advisor
Email: dnettles@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5132

About Me: I am originally from Darlington, South Carolina, and enjoy doing Standup Comedy, music, sports, movies and great television. I love to work with students, travel, eat good food and spend time with my family and friends.

Education/Major(s):  B.S. in Elementary Education, Benedict College; M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Columbia College

Length of Time at USC: 5 years

James Prince

James Prince

Assistant TRIO Director/Upward Bound Program
Email: princej@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5092

About Me: One of the greatest gifts ever bestowed upon me was my acceptance into Upward Bound. As director for the program, I’ve previously been a participant, a tutor/residence counselor and an instructor. I have a knack for working with kids. I love to travel and explore various cultures, eat good food, and give back to my community.

Education/Major(s): B.A. in African-American Studies and B.A. in Media Arts both from University of South Carolina; M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Full Sail University

Length of Time at USC: 16 years

Shanna Robinson

Shanna Robinson

Gamecock Guarantee Coordinator
Email:  shannag@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone
: 803-777-5022

About Me: I am a true Northerner at heart! Through research, teaching, advising, and service experiences, I have sought to understand programs and best practices that support the academic and social experiences of first-generation college students.

Education/Major(s):   B.A in Psychology from Penn State University;  M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut 

Length of Time at USC:  3 years

Regina Smith

Regina Smith  

Associate TRIO Director/Educational Talent Search Program
Email: rhsmith@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5138

About Me: Married to a Clemson grad, we are a house divided. We have 3 kiddos: Hailey, Spencer and Josh.  Two are in college and one, a junior at Dreher High School. My son recently added an addition to the family,  who we call Snow, a fluffy white rescue pup. To say they have kept me busy with arts, sports, and travel, would be an understatement! An empty nest is coming soon. But I have to admit, I’m looking forward to my home office conversion.

On a recent visit to campus, my daughter looked at a plaque I received for 20 years of service and said I have made this my life’s work! Education and college access have been my passion. I am a UofSC proud alumna and yes Hailey, I’ve made this my “life’s work.”

Education/Major(s): University of South Carolina B.A. in English minor-Psychology

Length of Time at USC: 23 years

Martesa Weston

Martesa Weston

Assistant TRIO Director/Reporting and Operations
Email: mweston@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5089

About Me: I have been married to my husband, Sam Weston Jr., for 17 years. We have been together for 25 years. I am a mother of four and my family is the joy of my life. I enjoy traveling, playing board games and spending time with my family and friends.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Business Administration from Southern Wesleyan University

Length of Time at USC: 21 years

Paulia Williams

Paulia Williams

Educational Talent Search Advisor
Email: hughespd@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone: 803-777-5883

About Me: Originally from Union, South Carolina, I am the epitome of a southern girl! I enjoy anything monogrammed, drinking cider year-round and cheering for the USC Gamecocks. In my free time, I love being a dog mom to Oreo, crafting, and spending time with her fiance. 

Education/Major(s): A.A. in General Studies from Spartanburg Methodist College; B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from University of South Carolina; and M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Columbia College

Length of Time at USC: 9 years. I transferred to the University as a student in 2010 and I never left!


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