Our Staff

Dr. Washington

William Washington Ph.D., Program Director

Dr. William Washington, born and raised in Flint, is a Laker for a Lifetime. He returned to become the TRIO Student Support Services Director. Dr. Washington studied at Grand Valley State University for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees then went on to Eastern Michigan University for his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. Previously he worked as a Graduate Assistant in housing and worked his way up to an Assistant Director of housing, so he knows his way around GVSU. He believes in the 5 F’s: faith, family, finances, friends, and fraternity which is a reflection of his life. He is married with 3 children (one currently a Laker) and a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Dr. Washington is a flourishing entrepreneur and co-owner of a local fitness center and has goals of owning his own restaurant. Everything in his life reflects his motto “I am not successful until I help the next person be successful.” His goals for TRIO SSS are to increase retention, persistence, and graduation by supporting all students, moreover, he has a special interest in African American male achievement.   

Tanisha Kuykendall

Tanisha Kuykendall, Student Engagement Specialist

Tanisha Kuykendall is what Grand Valley likes to call a TRUE Laker for a Lifetime. She graduated twice from GVSU in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and in 2017, a Masters of Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs and Leadership. Starting her career as a financial aid Counselor, Tanisha led FAFSA workshops on GVSU’s campus and in the community to prepare high school students for college. This past April she transitioned to TRIO Student Support Services at GVSU, which focuses on supporting first generation college students.


”Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” -William James


Tanisha is committed to hosting events and programs designed to help SSS students  in building academic, financial and life skills as well as explore their desired career possibilities.

Michaela Mayer

Micaela Mayer, Program Advisor

Micaela Mayer is very passionate about working with students, providing support, and helping students excel to achieve their goals. Micaela is a program advisor for TRIO SSS and also works as an advisor in the LAKER Academic Success Center. Grand Valley has been Micaela’s home-away-from-home. She has lived in Grand Rapids for over 15 years, completed her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Masters of Education in Adult and Higher Education at GVSU, and participated on GVSU’s Track and Field Team. In Micaela’s free time she loves spending time with family, cooking, being outside, and exploring Grand Rapids.  

Sonya Barrett

Sonya Barrett, TRIO SSS/STEM Office Coordinator

I am excited to be a part of the GVSU TRIO SSS and STEM family.  Having worked with multiple Federal and State funded programs while working at Muskegon – Oceana MI WORKS!, I developed a passion for assisting people of all ages and backgrounds with resources to help them achieve their personal, educational and professional career goals. 

In my free time, I enjoy golfing, going to movies and visiting my two adult daughters that reside on the East side of the State with my two granddaughters and three grand –dogs.

Graduate Assistants

Ari Fiske

Ari Fikse

Ari Fikse is currently a graduate student in the College Student Affairs Leadership program here at Grand Valley. Her undergraduate degree is from Central Michigan University.  She works for TRIO SSS as an advisor. Ari also works as an Academic Success Coach at the Student Academic Success Center – the same office that TRIO SSS is located! She enjoys working with students because she remembers all the help she received during her college experience that helped her to graduate and hopes to provide that same support to students at GVSU. In her free time, Ari enjoys spending time with her family and friends, walking to her dogs,  reading, and doing outdoor activities.