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Beyond the Bell Tower – Season 2

New episodes are released weekly on Mondays. Beyond the Bell Tower Podcast is available on SoundCloud or by using the links below.

Episode 19, Bri Elum

As a first-generation student, Bri recalls the days and weeks leading up to the start of her first year of college and first months on campus. These days were filled with uncertainty, and she was afraid to ask questions. Every day, she continued to realize how much she didn’t know. Fast forward now, she screams to the top of my lungs with joy “I am a proud first generation college student” because that has indeed shaped her experience in undergrad and graduate school. Bri has not let anything “dim her light” and she wants you to do the same. Bri Elum is Community Director for University Housing.

Listen to Bri’s Interview

Episode 20, Joelle Fuchs

Joelle shares the good and bad of her four years at NC State. Engaging in undergraduate research and benefiting from a cast of female mentors have been her motivating force. She excelled in research studying the effects of BPA on the brain and was selected for summer research at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, which ranks first in the country. But, during that time, she had no possibility of securing housing when she returned to campus – making her homeless. Joelle not only shares more of her experiences excelling in school while being food and housing insecure, but offers solutions. Moving forward, Joelle is going to continue with a career in research – to find the answers to the problems she experienced.

Listen to Joelle’s Interview

Episode 21, Clay Chaney

Clay Chaney is the TRIO resident meteorologist. Currently a TV Weather Center Intern for WRAL local TV station, Clay covered Hurricane Florence and Michael, creating a weather graphic of Hurricane Florence that had over 1 million views and 15,000 shares on social media. In this episode, Clay shares the literal sweat and tears he shed to reach his goal of being a storm chaser. He relied on Greek life, intramural sports, undergraduate research and TRIO to be the first one in his family to graduate college and go onto graduate school. We do wish him luck to reach another goal, winning a championship in intramural flag football.

Listen to Clay’s Interview

Episode 22, Kyana Miller and Kier Way

Kier Way, TRIO Alum and first-year veterinary medical school student, speaks with current TRIO students and current veterinary medicine applicants about his origins, his journey through State, and how he stays humble throughout the highs and lows of being a student. Be ready to rock it with this stoic front-runner.

Kyana Miller, TRIO Chair of the Peer Mentor Program and senior in Animal Science program will walk you through her truth. She’s an out of state student, a study abroad ambassador, and an advocate for exotic animal medicine. In this interview, she’ll tell you the reality of being a POC in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences while keeping it more than upbeat. You’ll hear tips, tricks, accomplishments, and lessons learned in this field.

Kier Way was a celebrated leader on campus during undergrad at NC State. His achievements range from Outstanding Achievement in Classical Studies to executive board member for National Pan-Hellenic Council (governing body of all Black Greek organizations). Academically he made the dean’s list, but not every semester. Even though it may seem like perfection is necessary to be admitted to vet school, it is not. Kier’s experience working in a exotic animal practice, research, and study abroad experiences, in addition to a diverse accumulation of animal contact hours and passion prepared him to be accepted.

Both Kier and Kyana share their passion for the profession along with the hardships of being a pre-vet student, living the vet life while juggling classes, friends, and working on veterinary school applications. It takes more than a love for animals to reach vet school, and TRIO was an instrumental resource. Kier and Kyana also share their experiences of being people of color on campus as animal science majors. If you are thinking of applying to vet or medical school – this is for you!

Listen to Kyana and Kier’s Interview

Episode 23, Dominick Vaccaro

Dominick made a huge impact at TRIO being the first President of the TRIO Student Ambassadors. It was obvious he was meant for great things. He recently graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s in Accounting from NC State. Today, he is an auditor with Cherry Bekaert LLP. Dominick’s path was not always a straight line. Within his first two years at NC State, Dominick had been a math major and applied to the Colleges of Engineering and Design. Discouraged is not in Dominick’s vocabulary – when he was turned down for summer internships, he just kept preparing himself for his career. Not getting an internship with NASCAR did not stop him from being a car fanatic.

Listen to Dominick’s Interview

Episode 24, Women’s Panel

On August 21, 2018, the young women of TRIO met with Dr. Kathryn Edin to have brunch and discuss the themes of her book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. These women reached back into their earliest memories, talking about how certain moments in the book reflected moments in their actual lives, with some revealing things they’d never talked about before. This conversation opened the door for students to feel more comfortable talking about one of the most taboo topics on a college campus: money. The most inspiring message that came from this brunch was one of perseverance and survival. Despite all that these women have been through, they continue to thrive in an environment that is set up in every way for them to fail. On this episode of Beyond the Bell Tower, kick off Women’s History Month with host, Riki Dows, and TRIO women — Joelle Fuchs, Jacqulea Anderson, and Khadija Parker — as they share their stories of living on almost nothing in America and how they continue to fight (and survive through) these same obstacles on a college campus.

Listen to the Women’s Panel

Episode 25, Indira Gutierrez

Indira Gutierrez is a TRIO student studying psychology with minors in biology and cognitive sciences, all of which tie into her passions for change in financial insecurity. Not only has she experienced both food and housing insecurity herself, but she is also she’s using her time at NC State to actively fight hard against the stigmas surrounding it. Under the direction of Dr. Mary Haskett, Indira has conducted research and collaborated on the Food and Housing Insecurity Initiative Among NC State Students. She has made strides towards positive changes on campus like keeping residence halls open during breaks and promoting visibility and accessibility to resources on campus like Pack Essentials.

On this episode of Beyond the Belltower, Indira implores listeners to realize that food and housing insecurity can look like many things, come in different forms and that you don’t have to be considered “low-income” to experience either one. NC State is a campus with a variety of resources for you to use. She hopes that in telling her story, she will convince others that there is no shame in using them.

For more information on these resources, important changes at NC State and how you can get involved, make sure to join the NCSU Basic Students Needs Facebook group at

Listen to Indira’s Interview

Episode 26, Gino Fernandes II

Everyone on campus seems to know Gino Fernandes II – as an accomplished entrepreneur, an active leader in Biochemistry, TRIO and Campus Enterprises, as King Gino a professional rapper and as the face of NC State student basic needs. Gino shares how has reaped success as a biochemistry student, starting an internship with Biogen all at the same time as managing his professional entertainment career creating music, performing and managing a label. How is this event possible? Gino appears to have it all – but it did not start that way, in high school he did not even know he had to apply to college and look where he is now. With his humor, passion and lived experiences you will be inspired by him. He will show you how you do not need to choose between your college degree and pursuing another career at the same time.

Listen to Gino’s Interview

Episode 27, Khalia Braswell

NC State TRIO Alum Khalia Braswell travels back to campus for this podcast in May 2019. After graduation in 2013, Khalia quickly became a power player at Apple, motivational speaker on the Ted Talk stage and highly acclaimed entrepreneur and social activist for her business INTech. We are lucky to have Khalia share the secrets of building a professional and social network including executives from Fortune 500 companies and some of today’s most innovative entrepreneurs while promoting girls in technology and pursuing graduate education.

With all of this experience and success she still became anxious when she walked back into DH Hill library to record the podcast remembering the sleepless nights making it through her computer science courses. Khalia will inspire you to continue the hard work in the library as it is a necessary part of the journey to earn an income while making an impact.

To learn more about Khalia: and

Listen to Khalia’s Interview


[panel heading=”Disclaimer” type=”panel-info” state=”closed”]

The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in the Beyond the Bell Tower Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, TRIO Programs does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement

All materials contained herein or otherwise affiliated were produced in good faith for informational and inspirational purposes for TRIO students. Although reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the information contained in these podcast episodes was current and accurate at the time of publication, neither NC State University, nor any individual who has furnished content or been involved in the presentation of this material, either orally or in writing,can guarantee that all information is accurate and valid.

All content may not be duplicated or modified without permission.