Talent Search

University Access Programs

Main Content

Our Mission
We equip and guide students to believe in themselves, to broaden their vision of the future and to impact the world positively.

About Us

TRIO Talent Search is a free college access and completion program that helps Abilene Independent School District students, grades 6-12, plan for college, discover their career paths, apply to schools and maximize financial aid. We support students who will become the first in their families to attend college.

Contact Us

1929 S. 11th Abilene, TX 79602 (Talent Search Portable)
Phone: 325-677-1444, Ext. 5567
Fax: 325-794-1386
US Mail: ACU Box 29207, Abilene, TX 79699

Office Hours
Monday – Friday | 8:30 a.m. –  4 p.m.

About Trio Talent Search

What We Do

Students turn in an application for the program as early as the 6th grade and must have a strong desire to attend college. Then, Talent Search advisors select students for the program and continue to work with those students until enrollment in college. The advisors initiate workshops and enrichment services, which help create an environment where the students can recognize their abilities to shape and mold their futures. The majority of Talent Search activities are conducted at school during regular school hours. Students are pulled from classes for Talent Search participation in group and individual sessions. 

Local and statewide post-secondary colleges, universities and technical schools are explored to provide opportunities that align with each student’s interests. For each participant, emphasis is placed on graduation from high school and enrollment in an academic or vocational post-secondary program. 

Eligibility & Applying


A student’s primary goal must be to attend college, university or technical school to pursue a postsecondary or vocational degree.

Talent Search provides college preparation and enrollment services to students that meet the following criteria:

  • Potential for education at the postsecondary level
  • First-generation college student (neither parent holds a four-year college degree)
  • Economically disadvantaged (family’s taxable income does not exceed 150% of the annually established poverty level)

Students must be between the ages of 11 and 27 years and have completed the fifth grade. Per government regulations, two-thirds of the participants must be students who are low income and potential first-generation college students.

How To Apply

Fill out and submit the application form

Application Form

Alternatively, you may download the application at the button below.
Downloadable Form

Please return the completed application:

via email

via US Mail
c/o TRIO Talent Search
1929 South 11th
Abilene, TX 79602

Once the application is received, it will be reviewed, and the student will be notified with further instruction from Talent Search.


Frequently Asked Questions

Both are TRIO programs as designated by the federal government, but Talent Search serves up to 518 students a year in the 6th-12th grade  students and is held at school during the school day.

Upward Bound provides more specific services, such as tutoring, and serves only 65 9th-12th grade students with an academic need. It is held on ACU’s campus three days per week, after school and some Saturdays, and includes a summer component.

Both programs emphasize high school graduation and pursuing post-secondary education.

Will you help me learn to sing and dance?
No, Talent Search is the name the government assigned to this TRIO grant, which helps students obtain their educational talent. We do, however, enjoy singing and dancing.

TRIO is the national brand for the government grant that is held by ACU. We work with students in the Abilene Independent School District.

TRIO Talent Search at ACU serves Abilene High School and Cooper

This program is free for participating students.

No, once you are in TRIO Talent Search, you are eligible until high school graduation.

Yes, we have many sessions set up to help parents and students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can even make an appointment with the office to have a one-on-one FAFSA meeting. Everyone fills one of these out every year of college.

No, but we will help you find and apply for scholarships that are right for you.

Meet the TRIO | Talent Search Team

Gayla Herrington


Gayla Herrington is the director of TRIO Talent Search (Federally Funded Grant through ACU) and is a first-generation college graduate (ACU class of 1988) and child of poverty herself, she now has a Master’s in Technology Education and undergraduate degrees in Business and Computer Science education. She spent 12 years as a classroom teacher. She loved teaching in the classroom but is thankful for the opportunity to partner with Abilene Independent School District to benefit more students. She is married to Don and has three children and six grandchildren.

Kimberly Crockett

Administrative Coordinator

Kimberly Crockett attended San Angelo State University, and for the past 16 years she worked as an Office Manager in a doctor’s office. As Administrative Coordinator for TRIO Talent Search, she is responsible for all student records, all office management, and making sure the advisors have the available supplies to work with students in schools. She is married to Philip and has three children and three grandchildren.

Randy Scott, Sr.

Middle Schools Advisor

Randy Scott is a college advisor in the middle schools for the TRIO Talent Search program. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from Abilene Christian University. He has worked with children in Abilene for many years and has been with TRIO Talent Search since 2005. He enjoys seeing the students succeed in all they do. He is married to Ruthie and has two children and seven grandchildren.

Joshua Hunter

Joshua Hunter


Joshua Hunter is a college advisor to the High School students for the TRIO Talent Search program. He has his Bachelors of Science in Social Work from Abilene Christian University. He is working toward getting his Master’s in Social Work. He has done internships in Communities in Schools and Hendrick Pathways. He believes God can use your gifts, talents and abilities however he wants and that pursuing higher education is a way to cultivate those gifts while you chase your dreams.

Talent Search began at ACU in 2002. Talent Search serves students in the Abilene Independent School District in grades 6-12, which includes all four middle schools and Abilene High and Cooper. TS provides enrichment activities to disadvantaged students to encourage their completion of high school as well as entrance to and success in higher education. This program is funded to serve over 500 students per academic year.  This program is funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, it is one of the seven programs designated as TRIO programs that exist across the United States.