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Desiree Tyus


Bachelor's:  University of Pennsylvania

Master's: Johns Hopkins University

Desiree Tyus is no stranger to the benefits of TRiO college preparatory programs.  She is a Ronald McNair Scholar and TRiO alumna.


Tyus is passionate about education, putting children first and exposing people to new and exciting opportunities. She is thrilled to be working within Collinsville School District and is impressed by the district's leadership, commitment to students and community resources. 

Tyus is eager to develop innovative ideas, network and collaborate with others, connect people to resources, advocate on behalf of children and parents, and produce results that will enhance the life of others.

She has an extensive background in grant management, program development and community relations.  Tyus currently serves on the University of Pennsylvania's Secondary School Committee of Eastern Missouri/Southern Illinois as an Alumni Interviewer. Her past experiences include: serving an an executive for a for-profit educational center, offering federal supplemental educational services grant, STEM enrichment courses, SAT coaching, college-readiness preparation and personalized tutorial services; an executive for the Gateway Region YMCA, where she developed five  programs for community development; board of directors member for the Illinois state PTA executive committee for five years, provided intervention services to Madison School District #10, and managed a 21st century federal grant for six years. She started her profession as a school teacher in Baltimore, Md., where she worked for five years before moving to Illinois.


Tyus enjoys making memories with her children, traveling, learning languages, event planning, shopping with her mother, attending her monthly book club and proving to the world that she is indeed funnier than her best friend, Melissa! 

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Melissa Bidinger



Bachelor's:  Southeast Missouri State University

Master's: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Melissa  Bidinger was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and got her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Corporate Communication from Southeast Missouri State University. During her undergraduate career, Melissa became heavily involved in Greek life, while jugging internships and jobs. Her college experience led to her passion for higher education, and ultimately pursuing her master's in college student personnel administration.


Bidinger hopes to work for a university's Office of Greek Life after graduating. Her role in UBMS is to provide students with academic, emotional, social and multicultural support.


In her free time, Bidinger enjoys camping, canoeing, sewing, and playing with her two rabbits. 

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Harben Branco



Bachelor's:  Iowa Wesleyan University

Master's: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Harben Branco was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved to the U.S. at the age of 17 during his senior year of high school.


Branco, a student-athlete, graduated with a bachelor's in psychology.  Currently, he is an exercise and sport psychology graduate student at SIUE. Brano aspires to help athletes elevate their performance by teaching them important mental skills.


His role as an UBMS graduate assistant is to provide students with academic, emotional, social and multicultural aspects.


Branco enjoys writing, exercising, playing soccer/basketball, and eating.

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Haruka Kawata



Bachelor's:  Lindenwood University

Master's: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Haruka Kawata was born and raised in Japan and moved to the U.S.after graduating high school.


Currently, Kawata is an art therapy counseling graduate student at SIUE. Her dream is to work as an art therapist in the Greater St. Louis Area. Her role as an UBMS graduate assistant is to provide students with academic, emotional, social and multicultural support.


Kawata enjoys hip-hop dancing, playing the piano, drawing/painting, running and cooking. 

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Robert Scott



Bachelor's:  Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

Master's: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Robert Scott was raised in the Chicago area.  He grew up with siblings and cousins around his age and developed a strong sense of competitiveness because of it.  This sense of competitiveness has helped him motivate students on becoming their best possible selves. His role as an UBMS graduate assistant is to provide students with academic, emotional, social and multicultural support.


Scott earned a bachelor's degree in economics and finance and is currently working on his master's in business administration at SIUE. 


Scott favors playing sports, creating art, listening to music, practicing playing instruments, and fishing.

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Dr. Sarah Hobson

English Instructor


Kaitlin Carpenter


Bachelor's:  Dartmouth College

Master's: Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English

Doctorate: University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Sarah Hobson has been with TRIO Upward bound since 2018. She began her career as a classroom teacher of high school French, English, and Humanities. She taught as an Assistant Professor of Adolescence English Education at SUNY Cortland before returning to St. Louis to found Community Allies. Through Community Allies, she has launched Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™. This approach draws on ethnodrama and supports students in becoming change-makers, who learn how to use bridge-building communication (through production-oriented reading, research, writing, and presenting) with one another and with their teachers to begin making change together with others in one another's lives and on issues that matter to them. Students design their own ethnodramatic collaborations, through which they own their own learning processes and develop communication skills to connect meaningfully with a wide variety of audiences. 

Through this approach, she supports K-16 teachers and faculty in coming together within and across disciplines and engaging in creative collaborative research into pressing regional, national and international issues and their own cultures, languages and literacies and into the cultures, languages and literacies of their students. Teachers also develop research methods and communication protocols that strengthen their competencies as bridge-builders, to one another, to students, and in our region, nation and world. Hobson also works with non-profits, businesses and government agencies to support change-making efforts, cross-sector partnerships, and to develop diverse talent pipelines.

Hobson enjoys salsa dancing, personal training – herself and others, theater, reading a range of genres, creative writing/playwriting, hanging with family and friends, and supporting the vivid imaginations of her nephews and nieces. 

Bachelor’s: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Master’s/Specialist: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


Kaitlin Carpenter attended O’Fallon Township High School where she found her passion for psychology. She majored in Psychology and minored in Anthropology and Sociology at SIUE. During her time as an undergraduate student, Kaitlin served as Communications Director for Psychology Club and played Quidditch.


Kaitlin is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Clinical Child and School Psychology. After earning her degree, she will go on to the Specialist Program, in which she will earn the proper credentials to practice psychology in a school setting.

In her free time, Kaitlin enjoys painting, putting puzzles together, and playing board games with her son.

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