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Wayne State Alum Nash Recognized as National TRIO Achiever

Published Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Tamara Nash '09 was recently honored as one of five award recipients honored for their contributions to their professions.

Tamara Nash '09Wayne State alum Tamara Nash '09, among four others who were either low-income and/or first in their family to attend college, were recently honored by the Council for Opportunity in Education for remarkable contributions to their professions. They include a state attorney general, business leaders, a U.S. attorney special assistant, and a researcher. The Council for Opportunity in Education recognized the five as 2017 National TRIO Achievers, named for the federal TRIO college access and support programs that have been helping low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities succeed in college against all odds for more than 50 years.

“These former TRIO program participants have distinguished themselves and are making remarkable contributions in their chosen professions,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of Council for Opportunity in Education. “It is an honor to congratulate them on their accomplishments and acknowledge how TRIO has helped make a difference in their lives.”

Nash is a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the State of South Dakota.

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, veterans and students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO programs to specifically help low-income students enter college and graduate. Approximately 828,000 low-income students and students with disabilities are served each year.

Remarks from Tamara Nash

Like many participants of TRIO programs, I started my educational career one step behind my peers. I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood and no one in my family had graduated with a four-year degree. At the time, my personal outlook on my future was bleak. I would have considered myself lucky to have obtained my high school diploma. However, life had other plans for me. I was fortunate enough to become involved in the TRIO program in the seventh grade. However, it was in the later years of my education that I came to learn what TRIO really stood for. 

Unequivocally, I can say that without TRIO, I would not have attended college. It was my high school TRIO advisor who pushed me to believe in a dream bigger than myself. She encouraged me to apply for college, take the ACT, and apply for the scholarship, which ultimately funded my undergraduate degree. With the investment she made in me, I learned to also invest in myself. 

Upon arriving to college, I quickly found a home in my college’s TRIO program. TRIO became my family, my safe place when the world became unsteady. My TRIO program impacted my education in ways that I am still just discovering. Through our program I found support through scholarships and advisors. I was empowered to challenge myself and take difficult classes. And through the program I fell in love with the concept of service. I quickly became involved in our TRIO program as a peer-tutor and mentor. It is there, where I developed the love of public service—a love that has guided my academic and professional goals since. 

Through TRIO, I was empowered to peruse my dream of attending law school. Upon receiving my Juris Doctor, I returned to the values that TRIO engrained in me, and devoted my career to being a public servant. I have spent three years as a prosecutor fighting for those with no voice in our communities. 

I often look back on my years in the TRIO program and wonder who I would have become had I not been afforded the great fortune of becoming a participant. I don’t know that I can tell you who I would be, but I can tell you who I would not be. I would not be a leader, a public servant, an attorney, or a college graduate. Fortunately for me, I only have to wonder what life would have been like without TRIO. 

TRIO has changed my life in so many ways. More ways than I can describe, but at its most basic level, TRIO saved my life. I will always be indebted to the advisors who invested in me and encouraged me and the peers who walked life’s journey with me. TRIO means that you have been afforded the chance to have someone in your corner, an advocate, someone slowly, but steadily pushing you until you can push yourself to achieve more.