Mississippi News

Rush receives 2024 TRIO Achiever of the Year Award

Photo: Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management Dr. Tonyalle Rush and the NWCC TRIO Team: Samantha Bradley, Kelly Stull, Dr. LaQuita Smith-Parker, and Reggie Parker. (Courtesy photo)

by Sarah Smith, NWCC

July 10 – “TRIO is everything,” Dr. Tonyalle Rush said, Northwest Mississippi Community College Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management, reflecting on her time as a longtime TRIO advocate and now, 2024 TRIO Achiever of the Year in Mississippi.

Rush was given this award at this year’s TRIO Southeastern Atlantic Conference (SEAC) Conference in Biloxi at their TRIO Achiever’s Masquerade Ball in April. This program was a collaboration with Georgia and Florida’s TRIO programs.

TRIO refers to a group of federally funded outreach programs in the United States designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. These programs aim to support low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities as they progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs

Growing up in the Delta in a two-parent household, the youngest of four children, and a small high school, Rush said she’s been used to a small community. So going to a large university, was a new experience, and she hoped to find a family there considering how far away her actual family was. Rush said when she came into the TRIO program at Mississippi State University, she found exactly what she was looking for.

After graduating from MSU with her bachelor’s, her first job was in the TRIO office that helped her succeed. She said she’d known at that point she wanted to get her master’s and so she did that job as she pursued her masters.

Rush said often that the students, just like herself, they may be interviewing for a job and don’t even realize it as was the case for her. She said she’d been interviewing for her first job for three years without even realizing it as a work-study student in the department.

But things have come a long way for Dr. Rush who said she never thought she’d be in vice president position, much less an VP that oversees the TRIO Student Support Services at Northwest.

“My story is an example that TRIO works,” Dr. Rush said, playing on the tagline of the organization TRIO works.

Dr. Rush said as a TRIO student something she heard a lot was “always do the right thing” and something Dr. Rush said she references often is Northwest Director of Campus Recreation and Intramurals Sports, Michaela Myhre says often to students and that is, “make good choices.”

Dr. Rush said she believes in doing what’s right even if it isn’t popular. But she said if a person has integrity and stays consistent, things will work out for that person.

“These programs are invaluable to a student’s success,” Dr. Rush said.

As a living example of this program, she encourages others to reach out to her where she can tell her story. And she encourages any students interested in joining TRIO to join at their respective institutions.

If you’re interested in learning more about TRIO at Northwest, please visit the https://www.northwestms.edu/l/current-students/student-support-services.

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