About Us

TRIO Educational Talent Search (ETS) is an educational program funded by the U.S. Department of Education designed to help middle and high school students to continue to the next grade level, graduate from high school, and enroll in and complete a college education. The TRIO Educational Talent Search Program at Hampton University will serve 810 students from target schools in Hampton City Schools.


To create a pathway for underrepresented students to pursue higher education by encouraging academic excellence, providing support and resources, and promoting college readiness in our schools and communities.


Educational Talent Search (ETS) was implemented at Hampton University (HU) on September 1, 1978. Education Talent Search has benefited the Hampton University community by allowing HU students to actively participate as tutors, mentors, and role models to ETS participants. To date ETS has served thousands of students; more than one-thousand being high school seniors. Over 80% of the program seniors have successfully enrolled institutions of higher learning, including Hampton University’s Leadership and Presidential Scholars Program.


Anyone in Hampton City Schools is encouraged to apply using the application link below. Students are enrolled throughout the year and remain within the program until graduation or if they are no longer within the district or choose not to participate. APPLY TODAY!

Program Offerings

• Academic, financial, and career guidance, including advice on entry to college
• Career exploration and assessments
• Academic tutoring
• College Awareness Activities
• Exposure to college campuses and cultural events
• Information on student financial assistance
• Assistance in completing college admissions and financial aid applications
• Assistance in preparing for college entrance exams (SAT/ACT)
• Mentoring programs
• Educational counseling and assistance with course selection
• Special activities for middle school students
• Workshops for the families of participants
• STEM and Engineering Exposure
• Summer Enrichment Camps


Shakiya “Keya” Steward, MA, MFT

As a graduate of Ashford University, “Keya” received a B.A. in Psychology and later attended Liberty University to receive an M.A in Human Services Counseling and a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Previously she was the Program Director for a local affiliate of the national nonprofit organization Communities In Schools. In this role she was responsible for 20 staff in 21 schools in 6 school districts to change outcomes of underserved students by promoting social emotional learning, academic and behavior supports, as well as cultural experiences. Through this experience she has been interviewed by local news channels and been a panelist on several platforms regarding trauma and mental health in schools. Keya’s passions are grounded in transformational change and serving others. Keya is also the CEO of Keya Speaks a coaching and consulting business.

Academic Coordinator

Michelle Dandy


Michelle Dandy was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Virginia Beach, VA. She received her bachelor’s degree in Secondary English education from Hampton University. Additionally, Michelle earned a master’s degree in Education- Curriculum and Design from Regent University as well as an Education Specialist degree from Virginia Tech. Michelle spent the entirety of the last 30 years in secondary instruction, teaching English grades 9, 11, and 12. She found it challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Michelle was fortunate to retire with 30 years of secondary instruction in June 2022 and feels so grateful to be returning to her Home by the Sea, Hampton University in the role of Academic Coordinator for Educational Talent Search. Once a Pirate, always a Pirate!

When not working,  Michelle enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. She’s always up for a walk with friends along the boardwalk or in the neighborhood with her fur baby, Milo. Michelle has a 21-year-old son who is currently a fourth year college student, so there’s always a road trip at some point in the fall to take in a football game and enjoy catching up with him. Michelle also enjoys reading and discovering new vegan spots in the greater Hampton Roads area.

High School Academic Advisor (Kecoughtan High, Phoebus High)

Jonathan Echols

Echols as he is called, is a native of Hampton and graduated from Hampton High School. He received his B.A. in Communication Studies from Christopher Newport University and a M.A. in Mass Media and Communication from Norfolk State University. Jonathan is also a neo-soul recording artist and has recorded over 30 songs. His music can be found on multiple streaming outlets.

High School Academic Advisor

LaQuon Johnson

LaQuon S. Johnson served as the Disability Specialist at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) within their Office for Students with Disabilities. Previously, he assumed the position of CUNY LEADS (Linking Employment and Academics with Disability Services) Advisor with John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). During this time, he also held the positions of Career Educator and Veteran Liaison with John Jay College’s Center for Career and Professional Development and their Department of Veteran Affairs.
LaQuon holds an Associate of Science in the field of Criminal Justice from Monroe College, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in which he attained from Lehman College (CUNY) and a \ Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Rehabilitation Counseling degree from Hunter College (CUNY). While pursuing his undergraduate degree, LaQuon worked as a Skill Builder for the Center for Human Development and Family Services (CHDFS) while employed as a part time College Assistant within the Counseling Center at Lehman, both serving as the catalyst for his passion to help, guide, and assist humanity.

Middle School Advisor (Andrews, Eaton, Lindsay, Syms, Tarrant Middle Schools)




Administrative Assistant


Naijani Ortiz Medina

Growing up in a military family, Naijani spent her childhood traveling between the US and internationally but has been proud to consider the Hampton Roads area home. Upon returning to Virginia, she received a B.A. in English from Christopher Newport University and is currently attending the Clemson College of Education to obtain a master’s degree in Teaching and Learning. As a professional she has been an early childhood educator. When she is not at work, Naijani enjoys exploring local nature trails or spending quiet time with her family and friends.