STEM-3 Student Success Center

Tim Birchard, Program Director

Tim is passionate about helping students connect with their dreams. He holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (multicultural education) from Texas A&M University, and a B.S. in Communications from the University of Texas as a first-generation, low-income student. His career in education has taken him as far away as Takamatsu City, Japan, serving everyone from elementary students to college undergraduates to professionals in social service fields.

Tim is an author, recording musician, U.S. Navy veteran, and a proponent for human rights and diversity issues. He spent 4 ½ years directly advocating for secondary students as Student Services Coordinator for the Durango Adult Education Center (now DEC) before serving college students at FLC. He joined the STEM3 team in the fall of 2013 as a Coordinator of Academic Services, and became Director in June of 2016. He is delighted to lead the STEM3 team and to continue advocating for people of all ages and backgrounds striving to improve their lives through education.

With a love for Durango and a drive to give back to his community, Tim is a Leadership La Plata alumnus and is actively involved with the ManKind Project. His local volunteer work includes collaborating with School District 9R and serving as one of the coordinators for the Keys To High School Success character development conference for 8th grade boys in La Plata County.

Ph: (970) 247-7521


James Deaton, Coordinator of Academic Services

I am excited to be on the TRIO STEM3 staff. I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Exercise Science Sport Administration in 2009. I was in the TRIO Program for Academic Advancement as a student, and the outstanding support I received at PAA inspired me to pursue a career in academic advising myself. PAA’s academic counseling helped me balance a full class load and a demanding work schedule, while maintaining an athletic lifestyle. Further, the camaraderie and cooperative environment at PAA provided me with a “home base” on campus, where I felt comfortable to study in between classes.

As a low-income, first generation student, I am familiar with the struggles that students with a similar background may face while completing their degree. Additionally, as I returned to College after a change in careers, I understand the challenges of non-traditional students. I am dedicated to providing the same thorough and thoughtful advising that I received as a student with PAA.

I am originally from Granite Bay, California. In my first career, I was a professional mountain biker, and my racing activities brought me to Durango. I am a former World Mountain Bike Downhill Champion and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee. In the course of my racing, I have traveled many places around the world. I have chosen to live in Durango because I appreciate the human scale of the city, the positive atmosphere of Durango -  in which residents are actively involved in the enrichment of the community, and of course, the world-class mountain biking.

Ph: (970) 247-6186

Cacia PopeCacia Pope, Coordinator of Academic Services

I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with STEM3 faculty and students! I graduated from Fort Lewis College in December 2015, Cum Laude with a Bachelors in General Biology and a minor in Chemistry. I was born in Durango, Colorado, so I did not venture far. After graduating high school here, I decided that I want to be a physician. Instead of leaving town, FLC seemed like a good option to do my undergrad since I wasn’t quite ready to depart my hometown. It is a nice, quiet area, with beautiful hiking trails easily accessible, and low crime rates.

STEM3 was a large part of my life during the 4.5 years I studied at FLC. They were able to offer me support as a first-generation, low income student by guiding me in the right direction towards success. Now that I am a part of the STEM3 advising team, I feel that I have a lot to offer to students that come here. In particular, pre-medical advising is something I believe I can bring to the table, as I am currently going through the process of getting into medical school, as well.
Most of my work experience was in a kitchen. However, before coming to FLC I was a Caregiver at Sunshine Gardens Assisted Living Community on 32nd street. The time I spent there was valuable as I gained an understanding of a wide scope of disabilities from dementia to Parkinson’s. I learned so many things from my residents about patience, compassion, and empathy. I believe a lot of the skills I acquired in that community can be applied to the students at STEM3 to help them achieve their dreams.

Phone: (970) 247-7518