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START Program Staff and Instructors

Cherisse Brown, START Director

Cherisse Brown

START Director


Cherisse Brown graduated from Idaho State University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Her professional experience includes working in the non-profit sector, wherein she managed the state workforce development contract for southeast Idaho, along with many years working closely with at-risk populations in the social services field. Cherisse is most passionate about compelling, empowering, and inspiring others to recognize their value and maximize their potential. She considers it a great privilege to work with students in the START Program at ISU.  

Donald E. Allen, Math Instructor

Donald E. Allen

Math Instructor


Don Allen likes math. He started math by playing cribbage, lotto, and other board games with his grandmother. He still likes math problems all the way from adding 2+2 up to group theory used in particle physics. No problem is too easy. No problem is… . Well, yes, some problems are very hard.

Don was born in Missoula, Montana. He graduated from Idaho Falls High School sometime during the last century. He attended college in New York, NY, Eugene, OR, and Pocatello, ID. He earned a Master's degree in Physics from Idaho State University as a nontraditional student.

Don has worked in variety of jobs, including farm, factory, retail sales, social service, and education. He worked more than ten years for USDA in a wonderful job which combined food and science. Getting paid to taste French-fried potatoes made him believe even more in higher education.

Don is delighted to be the Math Instructor for the START program. Working with the people, both students and staff, is the best part of the job.

Michael Clarke Instructor, Technical General Education

Michael Clarke

Advanced Instructor

Office: Roy F. Christensen Complex 383


  • BS Business Finance
  • MBA General Business

Professional Work Experience

  • 19 years in education
  • Spent 11 years teaching CTE, Computers, and Business at the high school level
  • 10 Years as an adjunct professor local community colleges in Business in Central California
  • 2 Years as full time faculty at a community college
  • Starting 6th year here at the College of Technology

Career Highlights

  • Ran several businesses including computer networking and repair and business consulting
  • Runner up for Fresno County Teacher of the Year 2007
  • Took my students to various international competitions, consistently placed in the top 10, including 3rd place in Marketing at the San Diego Virtual Enterprise Trade Fair

One of my favorite Professional Experiences

Okay, I’m going to cheat a little and tell you about two small ones.

The first was in my first year of teaching, a young lady was struggling with an assignment and so I bent down and slowly explained it to her in a different way. All of the sudden she says, “Oh, now I get it Mr. Clarke!” Lightbulb going off over my head or whatever metaphor you can think of but right then I knew I was on the right path in teaching.

The second was when I took my students to the aforementioned San Diego Trade Fair. My students were setting up their booth (instructors weren’t allowed to help) and another instructor looks at my students and said something like,” Are all your students Hispanic?” I looked and I said, “No, two of them are Hmong also”. I honestly had never really thought about it, to me they were just students. I realized that growing up with a Native American step-father had pretty much made me colorblind. If that is the case, I hope I never start noticing things like that.

Tim Davis START Instructor

Timothy O. Davis

START Writing Instructor

Office: Office: Roy F. Christensen Building Room 375


Tim Davis has a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from Boise State University, and a Bachelor's Degree in English from Idaho State University. Originally from High Point, North Carolina, he served in the Army as an Internment and Resettlement Specialist. After his discharge, he moved to Idaho. He has 11 years teaching experience, and has taught developmental English, composition, literature, argumentation, creative writing, and professional communications at Brown Mackie College, Broadview University, ITT-Tech, the College of Western Idaho, The University of Phoenix, Ashford University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Halifax Community College.

Tim is also a writer, and his work has appeared in Juste MilieuThe Slag Review, Flash Frontier, Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine, Shotgun Honey, and The Storyteller. He is currently working on several projects. 

Tim has lived in Pocatello, Boise, Greenville, NC, and now Idaho Falls.

He has been married for 22 years and has three kids. He is passionate about writing and teaching. Tim also enjoys reading, crossword puzzles, Minecraft, researching, and taking walks with his kids. Tim's favorite book is a lengthy discussion, but he can narrow it down to five: Wise Blood  by Flannery O' Connor, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender, No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tart. 

Mike Serpa math instructor standing next to a piano.

Mike Serpa

Math Instructor

Office: Roy F. Christensen Building, 3rd Floor

Mike was born in Wendell Idaho and grew up in American Falls Idaho. He attended Idaho State University earning a BS and MS in Physics. Mike has worked for RCA in their solid state research lab and for AMI Semiconductors holding various technical and technical management positions.

Mike’s hobbies are studying the piano, reading, gardening and playing with his new puppy Lolli.

He enjoys being part of the START team because of the personal satisfaction he gets helping students take the next step in their education.