McNair Staff

Courtney Simpson

Senior Director, SSS 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 with 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.

Lara Chatman, Ph.D.

associate director
Contact Info

Dr. Lara Chatman received her PhD 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
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Born in New York and raised in North Carolina, Kyle Blochl is an avid fan of the outdoors, ice hockey, music, tea drinking, and watch collecting. He 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 SSS tutoring needs are fulfilled. However, after work he is an epee fencer, musician, runner, and mead maker. His nerdoms include Dune, Game of Thrones, English Language History, and too many video games to count.

Dawn SpeasDawn Speas

Program Assistant
Contact Info

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). Previously, she was a Project Manager for many years working with a diverse population as she planned and implemented numerous projects for various clients. With a bright smile and positive attitude, she genuinely enjoys working with and helping others, especially cheering for and encouraging students to never give up no matter how hard life may seem as they strive to succeed in higher education.

Trisha Jackson

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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.