Gutierrez begins new path as director of Albion College TRIO program

January 26, 2023

By Ward Mullens
Jackie Gutierrez standing in front of a whiteboard in the Trio lab.

Whether she is hiking trails across the state in her spare time or helping students navigate the college experience, Jackie Gutierrez understands that you have to find the right path.

“You have to know the landscape,” said Gutierrez, an Albion native. “And then you have to be able to show others how to get where they need to go.”

On Gutierrez’s newest career path, she will serve as the TRIO Student Support Services Program Director at Albion College.

The TRIO Student Support Services Program is a federally funded grant program serving first-generation students, students with documented disabilities and students who meet federal income guidelines. Albion College was awarded its current grant in the fall of 2020, and the three grant-funded staff members are part of the Cutler Center for Student Success team.

At Albion College, the TRIO SSS program includes a two-week summer bridge to help first-year TRIO students build academic skills and develop community in their transition to college. TRIO SSS accepts eligible students at any stage of their college career.

The five-year grant can support up to 140 students at Albion, according to Gutierrez.

“Jackie has an incredible passion for helping students and working with them to enhance their educational experience,” said Leroy Wright, vice president for student development at Albion College. “We are very excited that she is joining student development to help guide this important resource for our students.”

Before coming to Albion, Gutierrez served 14 years at Kellogg Community College (KCC) During her time in higher education, she has worked in a variety of roles, including registration, scholarship/financial aid, and, most recently, as Program Coordinator for KCC’s TRIO Upward Bound program.

Gutierrez graduated from Sienna Heights College in 2013.

“I grew up in Albion so this seemed like a natural progression for me,” said Gutierrez. “I feel like it is just a good fit for me because I can encourage and help change things.

And my commute now is about five minutes,” she added with a laugh.

Gutierrez said she is still getting her bearings at Albion College in her second week in her new role.

“We are looking at where improvements can be made within the program. We will have a better idea after we return from winter break,” she said.

She said she feels confident about the success of the TRIO program at Albion.

“The people here at Albion College are impressive. The relationships they have with each other, and the students are incredible. If you could bottle that and sell it you would be rich,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said that she is surveying the Albion College landscape but the destination remains the same: helping students gain the best college experience Albion College has to offer.

“It’s about accessibility and being aware of how to pull things together for students who may not understand how they even got here,” she said. “They may not know how to navigate beyond that, so we have to help them. You have to find out where they are and how I can connect them to the right person and the right department.

“It is a pretty amazing feeling when a student comes back and says that they got a job or knew something because you helped them,” said Gutierrez. “It has an impact on them and their family, and you had a hand in that.”