An Alcornite, one of the state’s most prominent TRIO leaders, was honored for his dedication to serving today’s youth.
Dr. Mitchell Shears ’99, ’01 (bachelor’s degree in mass communications, master’s degree in education) was recently named the 2022 TRIO Achiever by the Mississippi Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel, also known as MAEOPP.
MAEOPP brings together people who have an active interest in or are professionally involved in broadening accessibility to and success in formal postsecondary education. The organization’s mission is to provide educational services and programs, professional education, and cultural and recreational opportunities to constituents from the services area and beyond.
Shears, who serves as associate vice president for Student Success & executive director for Title III at Jackson State University, has contributed to awarding 21 TRIO programs through grant writing and program development. The institutions include Alcorn, Coahoma Community College, Hinds Community College – Utica, and Jackson State.
TRIO programs have grown from one to eight under Shears’ leadership at Jackson State, with additional programs currently going through the review process. During his time at Hinds, Shears increased the number of TRIO programs from two to 10 with funding for five new Upward Bound programs and three new Upward Bound Math & Science programs.
Shears has been involved with TRIO programs since high school as a student participating in Upward Bound at Hinds in Utica and later as a member of the TRIO Student Support Services program at Alcorn.
The award is a testament to Shears' dedication to providing better opportunities and resources for future leaders. He appreciates the recognition of his peers.
“I am grateful to be recognized by my colleagues in Mississippi who do this work daily,” said Shears. “It goes to show that the late nights and early mornings of thought-provoking grant writing, program development, and strategic planning do not go unnoticed.”
Because of his long history with TRIO programs, Shears understands the importance of putting the students’ needs first.
“I realize that this is not about me, but more about the service and opportunities that allow us to provide for students who are income-challenged and first-generation college students.”
Shears reflected on his time as a participant in those programs and how they prepared him for college life and the corporate world.
“The TRIO programs gave me a glimpse of college life and beyond. Upward Bound prepared me by exposing me to college life early through its six-week summer residential program, cultural field trips in and out of state, the summer bridge component, monthly stipends, and ACT waivers, and assistance with completing the FAFSA and college application. The Student Support Services program prepared me for my career by offering job opportunities, resume writing assistance, mock interviews, and prepared me for graduate school.”
The experiences paid off as Shears credits his time in the programs for shaping the professional he is today.
“All of my experiences shaped and prepared me for a successful career. Had it not been for all my experiences in those programs, I would not have been able to develop the current TRIO programs and contribute to other HBCU TRIO success.”