UALR's Delta Educational Opportunity Center News

A Brighter Future
January 31, 2018
By Special to Seark Today

Original Source:


William Mullenax, a resident at the Sobriety Living Center in Pine Bluff, has new hope. He is working toward something that can never be taken away from him: a college education.

Mullenax recently enrolled in college for the first time with the help of Delta Educational Opportunity Center and is attending classes at Southeast Arkansas College.

“I am proud of myself,” Mullenax said. “I wish my grandparents, who raised me, were here to see me going to school clean and sober.”

His new goals include giving back to his community. After completing an Associates of Arts in accounting at Southeast Arkansas College, he wants to obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting and join the staff at Sobriety Living to help others, like him.

Mullenax is one of six Sobriety Living residents served by Delta EOC that is attending college this year.

“Delta EOC assisted me with the entire financial aid process, school enrollment and testing,” Mullenax said.

The Delta Educational Opportunity Center is an outreach program hosted by the University of Arkansas-Little Rock that serves Southeast Arkansas. As a federal TRIO program, it provides college access assistance to first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds. The program has maintained a partnership with Sobriety Living Center since May 2016. Each month, Keisha Smith, a Delta EOC counselor, visits the center to assist participants like Mullenax with financial aid, college admission applications, and financial literacy.

“When I first met William he had goals but was unsure of how to accomplish them,” Smith said. “After sitting down and developing a plan by exploring local colleges and programs, his goals started to become realities. It was awesome to be a part of William’s transition. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him.”

Jennifer Stewart, the facility coordinator at Sobriety Living Center, said the Sobriety Living Center is very thankful for the partnership with Delta EOC. “We pride ourselves on being a family, and have truly gained new family members through this partnership,” she said. “They have come into our facility and provided hope to the men. They let them know obtaining a higher education is not impossible.”

The Sobriety Living Center was founded in April of 2008 by Myra and Kent Rinehart as a licensed, transitional living center through Arkansas Community Corrections (ACC) that assists men coming out of prison in battling their various addictions. SLC staff teach facility residents how to live a productive lifestyle in order to eliminate the potential for recidivism. Sobriety Living focuses on prevention, intervention, family reunification, and career and after care to individuals with substance abuse problems. It is a non-profit program relying solely on self-pay residents and transitional funding.

Delta Educational Opportunity Center Counselors

Delta Educational Opportunity Center Counselors

Delta EOC is a proud partner of Sobriety Living Center.

For more information on the Delta EOC program call 501-907-2470 or visit

Updates for AASAP Membership

Hi AASAP membership!

Thank you for all who donated $5 yesterday in honor of Valentine’s Fair Share! If you didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because you believe it is just another attempt for corporate America to line the pockets of big florists and chocolatiers, well guess what! You can still donate today since it’s back to being a normal day! ;-) Click here to donate!

I just wanted to remind you that Hall of Fame nominees are being accepted. TOMORROW is the deadline to submit your nominee. We would love if every program submitted one exceptional student! You do not need to attend TRIO day to nominate someone.

The deadline to register for TRIO day in Batesville is next Friday, February 24.

Click here to access the Hall of Fame nomination form and/or register for TRIO day!

Spring Leadership information will be released soon! Look for an email in the upcoming week!

As always, we continue to collect APR from programs to utilize for advocacy materials on the Hill next month. We are getting down to the wire. PLEASE submit those to me as soon as possible! If you want to sort through data we still need volunteers!

Thanks again for all you do, serving students and our organization!

Michelle Ciesielski

AASAP Membership Updates

Good evening, membership,

First, with great sadness I would like to ask the membership please keep Donna Mooney and her family in their thoughts and prayers. Donna’s son, Stephen Green, passed away and was laid to rest on Saturday. A child who precedes his parents in death is devastating. This news makes everyone's hearts heavy. I know the TRIO family is reaching out to Donna and her family with love and support during this difficult time. Please send condolences to 7909 Trophy Circle, Pine Bluff AR 71603.

TRIO Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 11 at University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville! The theme is “Be a Superhero for TRIO!” Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite superhero shirt or costume. The day will include the Coins for College Scholarship opportunity, Purse Project – a community service project, a special welcome gift for participants, Hall of Fame recognition, lunch, and campus tours of UACCB and Lyon college. Registration is $25/participant. The deadline to register is Friday, February 24. To register for the event please click here. If you have any questions about TRIO Day please contact Dorianne Dias at or 870-612-2140. For questions about registration, please contact Jeanette Youngblood, AASAP Past-President, at or 870-307-7263.

Hall of Fame nominations are now being accepted! Even if you are unable to participate in TRIO Day, we encourage your program to nominate one participant to be included in the Arkansas TRIO Hall of Fame. All nominees (whether in attendance or not) will be recognized. Please click here to visit the TRIO Day event on our website and access the nomination form. When completed, submit to Beka Sharp at

There is a position opening at SAU for a Tutor Coordinator. To access this, please click here. Feel free to forward this opportunity to anyone who may be interested.

Please continue to submit your APR for advocacy publications when we go to Policy next month! So far we have had a decent response, but nowhere near enough. We will begin compiling the information this week. I really hope everyone can be involved in this and we can be the fanciest state on the Hill with our eye-catching, data-driven supplemental materials. Please email me at and I will see your data is included in the pool.

If there are any announcements you would like to include in the next update, please let myself or your AASAP representative Carol Gilley know. Her email is

Thank you all, once again, for everything you do. Since becoming president, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your feedback and people stepping up to help out. This organization is truly strong when everyone chips in. If you haven’t gotten involved yet, feel free to reach out and we will gladly help you find your home in this organization. You don’t have to wait for a new semester or a new year to jump in.

Until next time,

Michelle Ciesielski

(501) 362-1233

Important Information and Upcoming Deadlines

Hello AASAP membership!

The first meeting was held with the new board yesterday. Here are the highlights you need to know.


The board would like to reopen the stipend application for anyone interested in going to COE Policy. Programs do not always cover the cost of attendance, so this stipend is helpful for individuals needing additional funding. The link for the application is below. Applications are due January 31.

< Please click here for stipend application. >

The board would also like to consider taking student alumni. If you have any alumni from your program who are now professionals that could be interested in participating in Policy as an advocate for TRIO programs, please check with them and refer them to us by January 31. An alumni presence is a powerful narrative for our legislators and it would be a fantastic experience for any of our TRIO student alumni.

If you are going to Policy, please let me know. I will be making appointments to talk to legislators and we can split into groups to maximize our time on the Hill. Knowing who is coming ahead of time and assigning them to their district's representative will be more effective for our group.


A vacancy has opened in the AASAP ELI Class of 2017. This is an opportunity for professionals to get involved in the organization and develop their leadership skills. You do not necessarily have to be a new professional to benefit from the ELI. Because AASAP wants to invest in the future leaders of this organization, costs of transportation and meals will be covered. If you are interested in applying for this, please fill out the attached application and submit to by January 31.


Our treasurer position has opened up. Michelle Hardin has served this organization dutifully in this position for more than two years and unfortunately has resigned her post. Michelle has prepared by getting the books in order and ready for a pain-free transition. If you are interested in fulfilling this vacant position, please respond back to me by January 31. The board will appoint someone to this position for the entirety of the 2017 year.


If anyone is interested in serving a smaller role, please let me know and we can put you on a committee! Examples of some committees include membership, budget, public relations, regional and national issues committee, Fair Share, scholarships, and fall conference conference committee. Committees are where the real stuff happens and you can make an impact in the organization. I know there is real, and sometimes untapped talent in our state. I hope we can put it to use!

A new administration in our government always brings uncertainty and there is no better time to get more involved in our cause. The AASAP membership continues to be a leader for TRIO professionals across the country. We are currently the third highest state in personal contributions (only behind California and Kansas). Thank you so much for what you continue to do for our students, our organization, and our cause. I feel privileged to serve as your president this year and am always open to any ideas or feedback you may have. I look forward to working with you all!


Michelle Ciesielski

(501) 362-1233

President's Update for May 2016

I hope that each of you have had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and fantastic sunshine that May has ushered in. I do have a few updates that I want to share with you.

AASAP Scholarships

The AASAP Scholarship competition is now open. As with last year, all AASAP scholarships will be using a common application this year. The application deadline is June 15th. Additional scholarship info can be found at:


The nomination form is now available for the Arkansas TRIO Achiever competition. I encourage you to nominate one of your outstanding TRIO Alums for this award. The deadline to submit TRIO Achiever nominations is July 15th. Nomination details can be found at:

2016 Fall Conference

The 2016 Fall Conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Little Rock from Sunday, October 2nd to Tuesday, October 4th. Conference planning is ongoing and more information will be coming soon!

Thank Yous

A big thank you to the Southern Arkansas University TRIO Programs for hosting an amazing Spring Leadership conference in April and providing a great day of professional development. And another big thank you to the University of Central Arkansas Upward Bound Program for hosting our TRIO Day in March and providing a great event for students to learn and network.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Jeanette Youngblood
AASAP President

Arkansas TRIO Day 2016

“National TRiO Day” is a day of celebration, reflection, and action around increased access to higher education for disadvantaged students. It was celebrated in Arkansas on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at University of Central Arkansas in Conway. TRiO programs from 14 of the state’s colleges and universities gathered for the event: Arkansas Northeastern College, Arkansas State University, Arkansas State University – Beebe, Arkansas State University – Heber Springs, College of the Ouachitas, East Arkansas Community College, Henderson State University, Lyon College, Ouachita Baptist University, Pulaski Technical College, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, and University of Central Arkansas.

UCA students volunteering in “The Big Event” for service back to the community helped with the day by providing directions, welcoming visitors, working at the registration tables, entertaining the crowd, and performing the “Roll Call” to acknowledge those institutions and programs participating in the day. With over 200 of the proud high school and college students being served by the state’s TRiO programs in attendance, the day began with the reading of the official Proclamation of TRiO Day from Governor Asa Hutchinson. AASAP President Jeanette Youngblood and SWASAP President Mary Kate Snow gave their remarks of encouragement and inspiration before the keynote speaker addressed the crowd.

Volunteers from “The Big Event” get the crowd dancing.

Volunteers from “The Big Event” get the crowd dancing.

Mary Kate Snow, SWASAP President (the regional association for TRiO programs), gives her remarks.

Mary Kate Snow, SWASAP President (the regional association for TRiO programs), gives her remarks.

The keynote speaker was Kelsey Lavigne, a TRiO alum from Lyon College’s APPLE Project Upward Bound who is now a Career Counselor at University of Arkansas, who spoke on the day’s theme, “The time is now!” Always a highlight of the day, Cody McMichael, Director of Upward Bound at Arkansas State University – Heber Springs, conducted the Arkansas’ TRiO Hall of Fame Presentation. One student from each program is nominated each year as a student who embodies the spirit of TRiO. Those students who were present received certificates for their hard work and accomplishments and in appreciation of their representation of the effectiveness of TRiO programs.

Kelsey Lavigne

Kelsey Lavigne

Arkansas TRiO Hall of Fame Students

Arkansas TRiO Hall of Fame Students

Another custom of the day is the Coins for College Scholarship. Students who attend are entered into a drawing to win a scholarship on TRiO Day by collecting their coins and donating them to be shared between one high school senior and one college student as a scholarship. Matthew Stringer from Arkansas Northeastern College and Kristal Brooks from Pulaski Technical College were the lucky winners. Michelle Hardin, AASAP Treasurer and Director of Upward Bound at University of Central Arkansas, presented each with a check for $135.50. In keeping with the mantra that “TRiO gives back,” baby items and towels were also collected and donated to the American Red Cross in Faulkner County.

Matthew Stringer (ANC) and Kristal Brooks (PTC), winners of the Coins for College Scholarships

Matthew Stringer (ANC) and Kristal Brooks (PTC), winners of the Coins for College Scholarships

A full trunk-load of items on its way to the American Red Cross in Faulkner County

A full trunk-load of items on its way to the American Red Cross in Faulkner County

Arkansas’ TRiO Achiever, Kory Mullens, who is an alum of the Student Support Services program at Arkansas State University – Heber Springs and is now a teacher at Heber Springs Middle School, submitted a video message for the students with advice and encouragement on their journeys into and through post-secondary education. The day concluded with a presentation from UCA Admissions who also conducted campus tours for students. Reactions to the day received through evaluations were overwhelmingly positive! Many thanks to the TRiO Day Committee for their hard work and dedication to the event: Cory Godbolt from Lyon College and Jessie Beal from University of Central Arkansas.

In 1986, Congress was asked by TRiO leaders to proclaim “National TRiO Day” in order to increase awareness and rally support for the programs. It is our hope that on this day, Arkansas continued that mission by communicating the significance of TRiO programs and celebrating the positive impact the programs have made in our state and our respective communities. TRiO works!

UCA Upward Bound participant receives Award

Bradley Pettry, a member of Upward Bound at University of Central Arkansas, was selected as the "Bill Deaton Student Salute Award" winner for October. This honor is awarded by the Conway County 4-H Foundation and acknowledges Bradley's excellence and accomplishments in the organization. Bradley won the grand champion prize for swine at the county fair and was awarded the swine superintendent's trophy. Not surprisingly, Bradley plans to major in agricultural business after graduation.

TIME TO REORDER - Arkansas TRIO Sticker Skins

Arkansas TRIO:

AASAP is now accepting reorders for the Arkansas TRIO Sticker Skins. Did you miss out the first time, or do you simply need to restock for this next year? Or maybe you need to spend some extra program funds before your grant or grant year ends?

You can now purchase and pay for your Arkansas TRIO Sticker Skins online through the AASAP website ( or complete the ORDER FORM and email it to Most orders can be fulfilled and mailed within 48 hours.

TRIO Skins are sold by AASAP and profits made support TRIO scholarships, advocacy, and alumni efforts in the state.

Please contact Nathan Brown ( or 479-575-2625) if you have any questions.

Welcome to the new AASAP Website

The AASAP board has been working hard to develop a new website that better serves the membership. Take a few minutes to look around and get comfortable with some of the new features. A few items we would like to point out are:

  • Board Photos and Bios
  • Organization Information
  • A store to purchase items
  • Pay Membership Fees using the Store
  • Register for Events in the Store
  • Instagram Feed
  • Twitter Feed
  • Sign up for emails
  • News Blog
  • Alumni Quotes
  • Show us some TRIO LOVE on social media. Use the Social Media Links on the right.

Over the next few months, we will be adding more information, photos, and blog posts. Please share any information you have with us. You can email website information to