TRIO program gets new director

By JoAnn Jones


Wynette Keller has worked with students before at the University of the Incarnate Word, but this time she’s directing a program that’s vital to the success of at least 200.

Since October, Keller’s been serving as director of the TRIO Student Success Program. TRIO is a federally funded program that provides services specifically to low-income students, first-generation students or students with a diagnosed disability. TRIO’s main goal, Keller said, is to make sure students are retained and graduate.

“Our real focus is to make sure that every student in this program knows that they are being cared for and being assisted,” Keller said. “We strive to have high levels of retention and graduation rates.”

A San Antonio native, Keller worked as a counselor in the past at UIW. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and two master’s degrees, one in communication arts from UIW and one in marriage and family therapy from St. Mary’s University.

Before coming back to UIW, Keller served as a counselor at San Antonio College and eventually directed SAC’s TRIO unit.

As for her new job, “so far, it’s great,” Keller said. “It’s a lot of fun. The students are amazing. There is a real inclusive spirit on this campus that I remember from the first time I worked here and have enjoyed since I’ve been back.”

As the director, Keller works closely with the program counselor, program leader and an office staff that help provide services to the students.

“A lot of starting as a new director has really been about watching: learning where it is going very well and learning where there can be improvements,” Keller said.

Some of these improvements, Keller said, will be happening throughout the semester.

“We have a lot of exciting activities that we are going to be doing with our students. But what I am really excited about is that all of the program leaders in our area, including me as the director, will be seeing students one-on-one all semester,” Keller said.

Seeing students one-on-one, she will be better able to help the students on their path and better serve their needs, she said.

“When you see a student get on the right path and really start to make improvements and make the right move to get where they want to go, that is the real reward.”

At present, the program is at its maximum capacity; but Keller said they will soon be looking to fill the spots of the December graduates.

“We can only serve 200 students, but we try and provide them with as much one-on-one care and attention as we possibly can. We try [to] provide them a variety of academic and cultural experiences to help them to graduate,” Keller said.

Recently, the grant that helps to fund TRIO was renewed for five years and will not have to be rewritten again, Keller said, until 2014.

“I foresee [TRIO] to continue to provide quality academic and cultural services for our students in an attempt to help them graduate.”

Wynette Keller

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