Orellana is new TRiO program director
By Maddy Warren
Editor In Chief
LCC’s TRiO program recently named Danya Orellana as its new director.
Orellana worked previously as the interim director in June before taking over full-time. She has been a part of the college’s TRiO program for 12 years.
“I am delighted by the opportunity of continuing to work with TRiO staff and students,” Orellana said. “The possibility to provide leadership is an exciting prospect, allowing me not only to contribute my passion and strengths, but to also continue my work in this dynamic and purposeful arena.”
According to the TRiO page on the LCC website, TRiO is a set of federally-funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree.
“TRiO … provides direct academic support services to 200 qualifying students each year,” Orellana said. “(It) empowers students to persist in their educational journey and to achieve academic success.”
Nationally, more than 2,800 programs serve over 850,000 low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities from sixth grade through college graduation.
“Per the United States Department of Education, the TRiO program provides opportunities for academic development and serves to motivate students toward the successful completion of their post-secondary education,” Orellana said.
“The goal … is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next.”
The programs provide academic advice, tutoring, mentoring, financial guidance, personal counseling, etc. Additionally, TRiO programs provide training for directors and staff.
“My favorite aspect of TRiO is that the students represent global and local diversity,” Orellana said. “They are from the United States and many other countries, all academic interest areas, a very broad age range, every spiritual and faith tradition, urban and rural populations, etc.
“TRiO is truly an effective academic success program for such a diverse population because the staff focuses on empowering the students to find the answer to their own questions, often using empathy and humor.”
TRiO Academic Adviser Felix Umeana said he has a positive feeling about Orellana stepping in as the TRiO Director.
“Danya has an unending passion working with TRiO students,” Umeana said. “She is a good model of excellence as I have observed her all these years working in the Student Support Services program.
“(Orellana) has contributed meaningfully to the students’ lives in her previous role as the Academic Coordinator … I believe she is going to provide more support for an excellent outcome for our students in her present role as the director.”
Before starting at the TRiO program, Orellana earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a master’s degree in education. She served roles in science, academics and social service.
Orellana said the TRiO staff’s most important strength is its ability to develop a rapport with students. She also credited the staff’s experience as one of the factors in student success.
“(The ability) comes from our own personal backgrounds of overcoming personal, social, economic and academic obstacles as first-generation, low-income, non-traditional students,” Orellana said.
“We have specialized questioning and listening skills, an awareness of and flexibility with individual styles, and are dedicated to establishing a comfortable and secure working environment for all students.”