What is a TRIO Achiever?
A TRIO Achiever is an outstanding former TRIO participant that has received recognition within his/her profession or for outstanding academic achievement.  They are individuals who have made significant civic, community, or professional contributions.  

TRIO Achievers are recognized at the TRIO Achievers banquet during the Annual Conference.  The public recognition of outstanding former TRIO participants is a special event that gives our TRIO community an opportunity to congratulate our alumni on their success. This award further serves as a source of pride in the knowledge that TRIO continues to make a difference in the lives of thousands of first generation and low-income students throughout the MO-KAN-NE region and the United States

2014 TRIO Achievers 

Jamie Bezdek, Ph.D. participated in the University of Kansas McNair  Scholars program in 2000 - 2001 and currently is employed as a  Research Associate at the University of Kansas Lifespan Institute. Dr.  Bezdek’s passion and commitment for disadvantaged students started  with her undergraduate research projects as a McNair Scholar and her commitment to educational equality is grounded in her beginnings as a  TRIO student. Dr. Bezdek is a TRIO champion at heart and will continue to  advance the lives of many underrepresented populations. 


 John Crooker, Ph.D.
was a member of the first McNair Scholars program at the University of Central Missouri, Class of 1992, and currently serves as the Director of Institutions Research and the University of Central Missouri. Dr. Crooker successfully overcame the varied and burdensome barriers associated with being raised in a first-generation and low-income family. Dr. Crooker states that “without a doubt, participating in the McNair program was a pivotal moment in my academic career and ultimately my life. There is not anything that has had a larger impact on what I am doing now.” 

Maaskelah K. Thomas, Ph.D participated in Wichita State’s Upward Bound program in 1973 – 1975 and is the Founder/Principal Consultant with Transformative Concepts Consulting Group.  She is a constituent volunteer in the Wichita community and works tirelessly to close the gap between the elders of the community and the youth. Dr. Thomas explained that “I knew that I wanted to attend college, but I was not sure exactly what that meant, not having had a history or role models in my family for how that might be achieved. My first summer on the campus of Wichita State University provided such an inspiration for me to do whatever I could to achieve this dream.


Criteria for Selection of TRIO Achievers:


The TRIO Achiever nominee must:

  • Be a former TRIO program participant who was enrolled in and successfully completed a TRIO program in the MO-KAN-NE Region.
  • Have enrolled in and successfully completed a postsecondary program of study resulting in a baccalaureate or terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • Be a person of high stature within his/her profession or has received recognition for outstanding academic achievement.
  • Currently be employed above the entry level designation for his/her profession or enrolled in a program for a degree above the baccalaureate degree. Special preference is given to nominees who have been out of school for five or more years.
  • Have made significant civic, community, or professional contributions.
  • Acknowledge that participation in the TRIO project had significant impact upon the candidate in obtaining his/her educational and/or professional objectives.

Past TRIO Achievers (2011-2013) Past TRIO Achievers