McNair Staff

Courtney Simpson

Senior Director, TRIO Collegiate programs
Contact Info

Courtney Simpson earned both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from NC State University. Ms. Simpson has a proven track record and demonstrated commitment to the TRIO Programs. As a first-generation college student herself, she has used her various roles at the university to advocate for and mentor first-generation, under-resourced students. Prior to becoming Director of Student Support Services and Student Support Services STEM, Courtney served as a Program Coordinator for the Educational Talent Search, an Academic Advisor in the College of Management, and an Assistant Director in the University’s Undergraduate Admissions Office. Courtney has served as Director of Student Support Services and Student Support Services STEM over the past 9 years and became Senior Director of TRIO Collegiate Programs after successfully obtaining the Ronald E. McNair grant, alongside Marsha Pharr. Courtney serves as the Chair for the First in the Pack Program and is a 3rd-year student in the Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development doctoral program at NC State University.

Lara Chatman, Ph.D.

associate director, ronald e. mcnair scholars program
Contact Info

Dr. Lara Chatman received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Miami University, M.ED. in School Counseling from Freed Hardeman University, and her B.A. in Political Science/Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Martin. As a product of both TRiO Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math & Science, she operates out of her experiences, knowledge, passion, and commitment to TRiO. Her primary goal as the first Associate Director of NCSU’s McNair Scholars program is to provide holistic support to her scholars while helping create first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented minority PhDs who will diversify professorship and research in higher education. In addition to working with TRiO students, Dr. Chatman enjoys doing motivational speaking on various topics including student retention, the mind, body, & spirit, minority student success, career decision-making, and thriving and surviving at predominately white institutions as a minority student.

As a researcher and scholar, Dr. Chatman studies Black women and mentoring, multicultural and diversity education, minority student retention & success, and critical race storytelling. She has published a chapter on the 10 Great Curricula and Navigating Inhibited Spaces: Black Female Scholars’ Re-Articulation of Knowledge Production in the Academy; she also has several works in progress. Lara is known for her talks on African American students thriving in inhibited college environments and Uncourageous Talks on Diversity and Race.

Kyle Blochl

Tutor Coordinator, trio collegiate programs
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Kyle Blochl attended Appalachian State University and earned both his BS in Secondary English Education and his MA in Instructional Technology: Educational Media – Media Literacy. Previously, he worked at Daytona State College’s Writing Center as a writing specialist and has also worked as a school teacher and computer tech. As Tutor Coordinator, Kyle makes sure that all of the TRIO tutoring needs are fulfilled. He also assists TRIO students in writing needs, including resumes, personal statements, and more. Additionally, Kyle is a certified TESOL instructor and assists with English language learning.

Dawn Speas

Program Assistant, TRIO Collegiate programs
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Dawn Speas is from Winston-Salem, NC, and earned a B.S degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Shaw University (Raleigh, NC). Prior to joining TRIO, she was a Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist. For many years she worked as a Project Manager coordinating multiple projects and implementing software for a diverse client population. As a first-generation and low-income student, she is very passionate about supporting students by working with colleagues and campus partners to provide academic, financial, career readiness resources, and life skills to succeed in higher education. In 2018 she received the Pride of the Wolfpack Award that recognizes individual employees for a special or unique contribution to their college, business unit, or NC State University. She enjoys taking walks in her neighborhood, making candles, aromatherapy, practicing meditation and mindfulness that she also shares with students via workshops to help relieve stress, anxiety and promote an overall sense of well being. Dawn is currently a graduate student pursuing her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at NC State.

Trisha Jackson

ACADEMIC AND RESEARCH Coordinator, TRIO Collegiate programs
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Trisha Jackson earned her bachelors degree in Rhetoric & Communication Studies, WGSS, and Religious Studies at the University of Richmond. Additionally, she earned her masters degree in Counselor Education in College Counseling & Student Development at NC State University. Her own experience as a first-generation, low-income student drives her work with students who share similar experiences. Trisha’s goal is to inspire students to use education as a vehicle for upward mobility, to take advantage of their resources, and to be holistically well.