CAC President, Dr. Jackie Elliott to Receive National TRIO Achievers Award

By Angela Askey, Executive Director Public Relations and Marketing 

 Dr. Jackie Elliott, Central Arizona College President is one of six alumni of the federal TRIO program to receive the National TRIO Achiever award. She will receive the award on September 1, 2016 during the Council of Opportunity’s 35th Annual Conference, where more than 1500 TRIO professionals will be gathered.

The Council of Opportunity selects candidates on the following criteria: must have enrolled in and successfully completed a TRIO program; must have completed a postsecondary program resulting in a baccalaureate or terminal degree; must be of high stature within his/her profession; must be employed above the entry level designation for his/her profession; must have made significant civic, community, or professional contributions; and must acknowledge that their participation in the TRIO program made a significant impact on obtaining their educational and/or professional objectives.

As a first generation, low-income student, Dr. Elliott is a product of the TRIO program. She credits her involvement in the Upward Bound program as the catalyst that helped her succeed as a student.

“I grew up in a small rural town in Kansas living on the Iowa Tribe Reservation with my parents and two siblings,” explains Dr. Elliott. “My parents worked hard, but barely made enough to support our family. Consequently, we lived in a HUD home, acquired commodities from the Tribe, received free lunches at school, and watched every penny. My parents wanted better for my siblings and myself, and they encouraged us to go to college. However, neither of my parents knew anything about how to begin the college process.”

Throughout high school, Dr. Elliott was told to enlist in the military and that college was too expensive, leading her to believe she was not college material. Her cousin invited her to attend an Upward Bound meeting and upon entering the room, she knew she belonged.

She states, “I was able to spend some time with one of the Upward Bound counselors during the meeting, and for the first time in my life I was treated like I was college material. She made me feel hopeful and optimistic about my future. Fortunately, I was accepted into the Upward Bound program, and as a result of the support, encouragement, and confidence the counselor had in me, I applied to Concordia University in Nebraska the beginning of my senior year and was accepted.”

Early in her professional career, Dr. Elliott served as Director of TRIO Programs at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. Her responsibilities included directing three federally funded TRIO programs (Upward Bound, Talent Search and Upward Bound Math/Science) to increase college attendance, retention, and graduation of traditionally at-risk students.

Dr. Elliott is dedicated to providing student-focused learning opportunities and she has continuously demonstrated this through programs and initiatives she has implemented during her 27 year career in higher education.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be named a recipient of this prestigious award,” states Dr. Elliott. “This program changed my life. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to “give back” to TRIO what it gave me – hope and a path for a better future.


The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, veterans and students with disabilities. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host Federal TRIO Programs that help approximately 790,000 low-income students and students with disabilities each year receive college access and retention services.

The federally funded TRIO programs provide college preparation, mentoring, and college admissions assistance to nearly 790,000 low-income and first-generation students, veterans, and students with disabilities across the country. TRIO is made up of: Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers, Veterans Upward Bound, the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, and Upward Bound Math/Science.



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