WCC Alum Named Virginia TRiO Achiever of the Year
Released Dec. 4, 2017
WCC alumnae Michelle Cantrell of Bland was recently named Virginia’s TRiO Achiever of the Year at a ceremony on November 13 in Roanoke, Va.
Cantrell was nominated for the award by Maria Whited, WCC TRiO Student Support Services Counselor, for her participation in WCC’s Talent search and Student Support Services. To be nominated for TRIO Achiever award, the individual must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, must be accomplished in his or her profession, must have made significant civic and community contributions, and must attribute TRiO for part of his or her success.
Cantrell’s nomination was submitted to the Virginia Association of Education Opportunity Program Personal (VAEOPP) TRiO Achiever Committee, where she competed against nominations from TRiO programs from all across the Commonwealth. Cantrell was the keynote speaker for the TRiO Achiever’s Luncheon in November where she received the honor. She will go on represent the state of Virginia at the regional Mid- Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MEAOP) in March of 2018.
Cantrell currently holds a master’s degree in counseling and works as a clinical intern at an addiction treatment facility, and she recently passed her licensure exam to become a certified substance abuse counselor.
“I first met her while she worked as a work-study student in the Talent Search office at WCC. It was then that I saw firsthand the work of TRiO programs in this young lady’s life. I watched a young lady who lost her mother earlier that year step up to the plate and be a mother figure to her baby brother while maintaining a balance of academic excellence and work while being a 19-year-old college student,” said Whited.
“TRiO provided structure when it seemed my world had become unmanageable. TRiO means support, education, hope, knowledge, and family. I will never forget how this program made me feel: accepted, supported, secure, educated and hopeful about being a small town girl now determined to change the way others feel,” said Cantrell.
Cantrell attended elementary and high school in Rocky Gap, Va. During her sixth grade year, Michelle became involved in the TRiO program through Talent Search. Talent Search soon fell into a list of passions that Cantrell explored while in high school. She achieved success in high school with theatre, forensics, Future Business Leaders of America, National Beta Club, and the student council of the high school. In her college years at WCC, she was involved with TRiO Project AIM. Along with Project AIM, Cantrell was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the WCC forensics team, Who’s Who among Students in American Universities & Colleges, and was a work-study student for the Talent Search office.
After the death of her mother, Cantrell changed her major from teaching to counseling with the goal to continue to a four-year school. During completion of her associate’s degree, she volunteered with the Bland County Ministry Center and Dental Clinic. After earning her WCC degree, she received her bachelor’s degree from Lindsey Wilson College in 2014. In December 2016, Michelle received a Masters of Education from Lindsey Wilson College with a 4.0 grade point average. She received the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award and was inducted into Chi Sigma Iota International Honor Society for counseling.
In 2015, Cantrell was a chosen recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award under the Obama administration for her work with AmeriCorps. She continues to be involved with many facets of volunteer work including Bastian Church of God, Bland County Library: Friends of the Library, SmileTrain as a social media ambassador, the American Cancer Association, and the American Counseling Association. She has also volunteered with The Summit Players Theatre, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and 4-H over the course of high school and college. Cantrell has been working as an Addiction Counselor at the Life Center of Galax since March of 2016 and is now a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor with the Board of Counseling in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Photo – Left to Right:
Maria Whited (WCC TRiO Counselor), Michelle Cantrell (awardee), Jessica Ketron (VAEOPP President), Charlotte Mowery (WCC Director of Project AIM & VAEOPP President Elect)