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Ay Saechao

Associate Dean for Student Development, Retention, & Conduct and TRiO Director

Growing up in a refugee community, Ay, who ethnically identifies as Mien, witnessed the struggles of family, friends, and community members adjusting to a new country while coping with the traumas of displacement and war. During his high school years, he realized few had successfully navigated the education system, and since then, Ay has devoted his personal and professional career to educate and empower our underrepresented students. Ay has served as a Program Coordinator and teacher at Westview High School and Cleveland High School, a Case Manager at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and a College Preparatory Advisor for the College Success Foundation. He joined TRiO in 2011 as Program Manager, creating the program from the ground up, which has exceeded national benchmarks in persistence, graduation, and transfer. In addition, Ay is also the President and co-founder of the nonprofit Southeast Asian Education (SEAeD) Coalition, a community based organization addressing the educational opportunity gap of Southeast Asian Americans.

Contact Ay at:
Phone: (206)592-3229

Eileen Jimenez

Program Manager and Academic Advisor
Office location: Building 6:158

Eileen Jimenez is the TRIO Program Manager at Highline College. Eileen was born and raised in Anaheim, California. Before coming to Highline, Eileen worked in TRIO Programs in California. As a TRIO Alumna herself, she believes in the transformative impact that TRIO can have in the lives of students. She credits her TRIO advisors and directors for believing in her and for helping her access higher education. Eileen earned a Bachelor’s Degree in French/Francophone Studies in Literature and Culture from UCLA and a Master’s Degree in Counseling: Student Development in Higher Education from California State University, Long Beach. Eileen has experience managing and creating programming efforts to support underrepresented students including undocumented and former foster youth students. Eileen’s philosophy is guided by her passion for student advocacy, for promoting and creating access to higher education for marginalized populations and for creating space and community for all students.  

Contact Eileen at:
Phone: (206)592-3898

Kathy Nguyen

Advisor and Retention Specialist
Office location: Building 6:155

Kathy Nguyen was raised in Westminster, California, part of the largest Little Saigon and Viet diasporic community. As a first-generation student and daughter of Viet refugees, she is committed to understanding the strengths of first-generation student scholars and other underserved student communities in order to reshape and redefine the ways colleges can uplift and support all student scholars. Kathy received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Asian American Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Postsecondary Educational Leadership/Student Affairs from San Diego State University as a California State Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar. Kathy has experience working with culturally-sensitive programs such as the AANAPISI grant, identity-based mentorship programs, and first-generation and transfer student support services.

Contact Kathy at:
Phone: (206) 592-4504

Blia Xiong
Program Assistant
Office location: Building 6:156

Blia was not a stranger to Highline campus when she came to TRiO. She was a former Program Assistant at the Academic Success Centers and a Highline Alumna. Like many TRiO students, Blia is a First Generation Student in her family. She was a youth mentor and volunteer in the Seattle Hmong community from 2010 - 2013. Blia is passionate about helping others to navigate their resources and build a connection. Most of all, she enjoys working closely with and supporting the students in TRiO, and learning new things. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her loved ones, listening to music, watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, and browsing on Pinterest to seek for her next creative project. Blia is a self-taught artist in sketching, acrylic painting, and recently in photography.

Favorite quote: "All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

Contact Blia at:
Phone: (206) 592-3492

To schedule an appointment with any TRiO staff, please directly contact the TRiO staff you wish to meet with or contact Blia Xiong at or 206-592-3229. Thank you!