A Recognition of Service: Honoring James Desits and Sonya Watkins


To honor retiring employees and current staff members celebrating over ten years of service, the University of Notre Dame hosted a service recognition dinner – and two of ND TRiO’s very own were guests of honor.

With over 20 years of experience working with children and families in social work and educational settings, Sonya Watkins (an ND TRiO Talent Search alumna) joined ND TRiO in 2006 as an advisor for Talent Search. In 2015, Sonya became the Associate Director of Talent Search. Two years later, Sonya celebrated a decade of service.

One year after the University of Notre Dame was awarded its first Educational Talent Search grant, James (“Jim”) Desits joined ND TRiO. 36 years later, Mr. Desits has remained steadfast in his pursuit of access for underserved populations. Holding back his emotions, Mike Boyd, ND TS Advisor and ND TRiO Talent Search alumnus spoke of Jim’s impact. “If it wasn’t for this man, I wouldn’t have gone to or succeeded in college; he plants seeds of possibility and greatness. I will always pay it forward because of what Mr. Desits has done for me.” While Mr. Desits was recognized for his service at Our Lady, the community has heralded him as an “Unsung Hero” for over 30 years…and counting.

Do the work…no one can deny the work…

Congratulations to Sonya and Jim for your years of service, but most importantly, for making TRiO…Work!