TRiO/KEY Staff

Felix Braffith Director: Felix Braffith

I am a first-generation college graduate that escaped the socioeconomic and academic traps that plague most students living in poverty. I began my journey as a community college student without a support system in place to help me navigate the complexities of achieving a college degree. As I progressed throughout college I realized that so many students from my community were not succeeding in the higher educational system, and I began to wonder why. After completing my transfer degree I enrolled at The Evergreen State College and received a BA with an emphasis in Cross Cultural Education and decided to pursue a career in education. The opportunity to advise, support, and motivate students to recognize their academic potential while becoming the first person in their family to graduate from college makes working for TRiO one of the most meaningful professions in the world.

Dawn Carlson Academic Specialist: Dawn Carlson

I remember being an adult returning transfer student at Evergreen struggling to do well in school, work part time and make my financial aid money last until the end of the quarter! I wish I had walked over to the TRiO office and signed up and found some help and valuable resources. It would have been great having someone to talk to when times got rough and learn about opportunities like the Gilman scholarship, so I could have afforded to do some study abroad before I graduated (even now, I look at the description for the program Greece and Italy, and daydream!). I graduated from Evergreen with my BA in 1992 and then went on to get my Master of Arts in Social Sciences from Pacific Lutheran University. As an Academic Specialist for KEY Student Services for the past nine years, it is my job and privilege to help students navigate college and learn the tools for academic success. I encourage you to come by and see what we have to offer, sign up for our TRiO class and check out our learning communities where you can share your story, support and be supported by students like yourself, learn how to read and write more effectively, find out about scholarships and have some fun! I look forward to meeting you!

Stacia Lewis Academic Specialist: Stacia Pomerenk

Recently my focus has been working with our third year and beyond cohort (traditional age juniors and seniors). My goal as an academic specialist for TRiO is to offer my students the support I didn’t have, advising them about many facets of college, both for Evergreen in particular and for higher education in general. I’ve held this position for about six years now (although I’ve actually been at Evergreen for fourteen years, having previously worked in Career Development). I also work with the 3rd year and beyond learning community. It has been a pleasure and an honor for me to work with the students in the TRiO program, encouraging and advocating for them, and preparing them for success here. When students join TRiO, they join a community, a group of people who understand the challenges they might face and who have tools to help them make the most of their undergraduate experiences. You do not have to figure this out on your own—I hope you'll join us!

Emily Sladek WaTEP Academic Specialist: Emily Sladek

I received my Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Evergreen. As a student I studied and practiced popular education and social science research for use in community education and organizing. I have worked in various departments at Evergreen for the last six years including Facilities Services and Gateways for Incarcerated Youth. In late 2011 I started working with TRiO/KEY as the Program Coordinator. I work at Tacoma Campus on Tuesdays and in Olympia the rest of the week. Please come by my office and introduce yourself...

Emma Tovar Program Coordinator: Emma Tovar

While I really like kitties, I have a special passion for marine biology. I also really like showing and telling people about TRiO. You can find me doing this at our front/back office area, during in the TRiO class as well as just when I'm walking around campus. Curious factoid: I workded in Housing both as an RA and RM, so that is also something I can give advice on.

Christina Balsom Peer Leader: Christina Balsom

Janessa Thomas Peer Leader & Office Assistant: Janessa Thomas

I started in the Upward Bound program, then transitioned into the TRiO program with no job, scholarships and without any knowledge of clerical work. With the help of TRiO I have now made it to my junior year at The Evergreen State College. This rewarding experience has allowed me to gain an understanding and appreciation for the TRiO Program and its entirety. My academic concentration is focused on pursuing a career in Public Administration, where I can use my abilities of critical thinking, research, policy analysis, and public speaking to solve environmental problems; to implement governmental policy. Without the support of this program I would only continue to fall into the socioeconomic problems that oppressed my privation and for that I am very thankful. My job as an effective Office Assistant and Mentor is to guide each student to access new learning opportunities that meet the students' needs by supporting you in the same manner that this program has supported me.