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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 completed 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.

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

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Trae Capers

Opportunity Scholars Program Advisor and Retention Specialist

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

Tegia Coleman Rochester

Tegia Coleman-Rochester

Assistant TRIO Director/Ronald E. McNair Program 

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

About Me: I am originally from Sumter, SC.  I was a first-generation college student.  So, I understand the importance of mentorship and having a willingness to read, research, and  discover on your own.  I have worked in higher education for over 15 years.  I believe that everyone should have an opportunity to achieve.  Working hard is just as important as expanding your knowledge to become the best version of yourself.  My mother and grandmother were my greatest inspirations because they showed me that if you believe in yourself and treat others as you would like to be treated, there is nothing you cannot do.

Education/Major(s): B.S. in Criminal Justice, M.S. in Criminal Justice, and Ed.D. in Education-Curriculum and Instruction.

Length of Time at USC: < 1 year

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.

Regina Smith

Regina Hailey 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

 

Sariel Harmon

Sariel Harmon

Opportunity Scholars Program Advisor

Email:  sgharmon@mailbox.sc.edu
Phone
: 803-777-2723

About Me:  If I had to choose three words to describe myself they would be creator, writer, and lifelong learner.  I have worked with first-generation students for two years prior to joining the TRIO family here at UofSC!  In my spare time, I love to watch movies, travel, and try new restaurants. 

Education/Major(s):  B.A. in Communications from the University of South Carolina Upstate; M.Ed.in Student Affairs from Clemson University

Length of Time at USC:  <1 year

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

 
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

Assistant TRIO Director/Upward Bound Program
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

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

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!

Vacant

Jasmine Williamson

Upward Bound Academic Coordinator

Email:  jlw6@email.sc.edu
Phone
: 803-777-5127

About Me: I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, but lived most of my life in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  After graduating from North Myrtle Beach High School, I enrolled at the University of South Carolina where I earned my Bachelor's in Social Work.   There, I interned with the Upward Bound Program and learned about the several TRIO Programs.  I relate to these students as I am a first-generation college graduate and I came from a low-income family.  Family is extremely important to me as the oldest of four.  I am excited to expand my family which currently consists of my boyfriend and two doggies, Achilles and JoJo, as we are expecting a daughter in late July!

Education/Major(s): B.A. in Social Work, fro the University of South Carolina in May 2021.

Length of Time at USC:  <1 year as a full-time employee


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