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The Director of Student Support Services at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) Julie Brixey was recently elected as a Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs (SWASAP) Representative to the Oklahoma Division of Student Assistance Board (ODSA). In her official role, Brixey will serve as the chair of the ODSA Scholarship committee and on the SWASAP Boards as a member of the Corporate Development, Student Leadership, and Scholarship committees. She will serve a two-year term. “I’ve always wanted to run for the ODSA board because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me and for NEO,” said Brixey. “I know that being heavily involved as a board member will allow me to network with other student assistance professionals and bring back ideas and techniques to better serve our students.”

TRiO is a collection of federal student assistance programs aimed at serving disadvantaged individuals. This includes first-generation college students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. To create greater communication and cooperation among directors, the statewide professional organization ODSA was established in 1971, becoming one of the first states to have a professional organization for TRIO personnel. . In the same year, the regional organization SWASAP was established which represents the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. While ODSA provides an avenue for TRiO personnel to network and discuss ways to improve the state’s assistance programs, the regional organization of SWASAP affords these same opportunities to exchange ideas across state lines, raises concerns and suggestions to national legislators, and sends representatives to our national organization, which is the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) located in Washington, D.C. “TRiO is dedicated to empowering out students and these organizations ensure that we are using the best practices to help our students achieve success,” added Brixey.

As a board member, Brixey will take on a variety of duties in addition to her committee postings. Along with attending quarterly board meetings, Brixey will act as a liaison between SWASAP and ODSA. “I’m most excited taking new ideas and leadership skills and bringing them back to NEO,” said Brixey. “It not only helps me better serve our students, but I can get my staff more involved in leadership roles. As the chair of the scholarship committee, it will provide insight as to what readers look for in quality applications, which in turn can help me guide current and future students in completing applications to obtain more scholarship assistance.” Brixey also noted that administrative support at NEO has been critical to her pursuit of the new role. “Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Bethene Fahnestock was very encouraging and wrote a letter of recommendation on my behalf. I truly appreciate that our administration sees the value of service in these professional organizations.” (Julie Brixey stands outside Ables Hall, where the Student Support Services office is located.)

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