Meet Our Team

Our entire staff is dedicated to helping you succeed in all aspects of your college career. We truly care about helping you explore your interests and find your passion.

Meet our Academic Advising Staff
Caitlin Marie Alvarez
Caitlin Marie Alvarez (she/her/hers)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Arts in English Studies, conc. Creative Writing: Illinois State University
  • Graduate Certificate in Women’s And Gender Studies: Illinois State University
  • Bachelor of Arts in English, conc. Creative Writing: Louisiana State University

Best Part of My Job:

Supporting students as they explore and develop stronger connections to interests they find meaningful.

Interests:

Meeting new people, trying new activities, touring lighthouses, attending concerts, hiking, boating, writing, teaching, playing volleyball, traveling, and enjoying a good cup of coffee with a piece of dark chocolate

Amanda Chamberlain
Amanda Chamberlain (she/her/hers)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Kentucky
  • Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Pittsburgh

Best Part of My Job:

Helping students grow, explore, and discover their interests during their college experience to help design a meaningful life.

Interests:

Reading, crafting, exploring new trails with my dog, watching sports, travelling, playing disc golf with my husband, baking (and eating) delicious treats, and watching reality television.

Aric Faulkner
Aric Faulkner (he/him/his)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Science in College Student Personnel Administration from Illinois State University
  • Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Illinois State University
  • Associate in Arts and Science in Foreign Language from Illinois Central College

Best part of my job:

Having a job that I enjoy waking up in the morning

 

Interests:

Spending time with my animals, hanging out with family and friends, traveling, and going to the movies.

Calen Gutwein
Calen Gutwein (she/her/hers)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Arts in the Teaching of English as a Second Language: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Best Part of My Job:

Journeying with students as they find meaning and purpose in their lives while navigating their academic career.

Interests:

Food tours, nature walks, movie marathons, singing along with musicals, and story-telling

Amanda Morley
Amanda Morley (she/they)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy: University of Utah
  • Bachelor of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences: Eastern Illinois University

Best Part of My Job:

Empowering students to explore their interests in an out of the classroom to discover career opportunities and assist in developing their self-efficacy in college.

Interests:

Outdoor activities, home improvement projects, playing music, traveling, volunteering in the community and spending time with my family.

Michael Myers
Dr. Michael Myers (he/him/his)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Ph.D. in Medieval History: University of Notre Dame
  • Master of Arts in Medieval Studies: York (England)
  • Bachelor of Arts in History: University of Arizona

Best Part of My Job:

Spending time with the people I work with

Interests:

Masonry, gardening, English sports cars, chainsawing, boating, and keeping up with my teenagers

Dustin Shattuck
Dustin Shattuck (he/him/his)
Undeclared Academic Advisor
  • Education
    • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing: McNeese State University
    • Master of Arts in English, Literature: McNeese State University
    • Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing/Rhetoric and History (minor in Secondary Edu): University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Best Part of My Job
    • Encouraging students to feel in control of their education and discover meaningful connections in their lives and communities. 
  • Interests
    • Birding, cooking and finding new recipes, gardening, hiking, reading, teaching, watching old movies and writing short stories. 
Jasmine Singleton
Jasmine Singleton (she/her/hers)
Pre-Engineering Advisor

Education:

  • Currently Pursuing a Master of Education in Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

    Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

Best Part of My Job:

  • Witnessing students cultivate meaningful relationships on campus and encouraging them as they navigate the challenges of being a college student 

Interests: Music, reading, painting, and spending time with my amazing friends and family 

Christy Verhelst
Christy Verhelst (she/her/hers)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Arts in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music: Illinois Wesleyan University

Best Part of My Job:

  • Helping students identify their values and passions as they create a meaningful college experience.

Interests:

  • Experiencing live theatre, songwriting, cooking famous dishes from different world cuisines, understanding disability issues, continuing to improve my Spanish
Aaron Walk
Aaron Walk (he/him/his)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Science in College Student Affairs: Eastern Illinois University
  • Master of Arts in History: Eastern Illinois University
  • Bachelor of Arts in History: University of Illinois at Springfield

Best Part of My Job:

Being there to provide support and encouragement for students during their college transition and helping them to explore their academic and career goals.

Interests:

Traveling, going to different baseball stadiums, playing music, movies, trivia, and barbequing, spending time with family and trying to figure out parenthood.

Nashea Williams
Nashea Williams (she/her/hers)
Undeclared Academic Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Science in Agricultural Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil Sciences, Concentration – Crop Production: North Carolina State University

Best Part of My Job:

  • Witnessing that lightbulb moment when a student is excited about finally identifying a major and career pathway that is in alignment with their passions.

Interests:

  • Spending time outdoors, watching baking shows and game shows, nail care/nail polish, podcasts, traveling to beach destinations, spending time with loved ones.
Meet our Support Staff
Essence
Essence Chatman (she/her/hers)
Office Support Associate

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations: Eastern Illinois University

Best Part of My Job:

Interacting with different students everyday is the best part of my job

Interest:

Traveling, going to concerts, trying new restaurants, cooking and making memories with my friends and family.

Sherry Clayborn
Sherry Clayborn
Office Support Assistant

Education:

  • Interior Design Degree

Best Part of My Job:

Enjoy interacting with students

Interests:

Designing for friends and family, landscaping, videoing with my 4 children including a set of twins, 7 grandchildren, and my 14 year old miniature dachshund.

Meet our Administrators
Jessica Arnold
Jessica Arnold (she/her/hers)
Associate Director for Enrollment Management

Education:

  • Master of Science in College Student Affairs: Eastern Illinois University
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Studies, Community Health Education & Promotion Concentration: Eastern Illinois University

Best Part of My Job:

Interacting with students from their first visit to the university and then working with them as an enrolled student. I enjoy seeing students get excited about their passion and interests and being a part of their college journey.

Interests:

Spending time with my family, cooking and baking, traveling to and exploring new places

Kris Blazek
Kris Blazek (she/her/hers)
Assistant Director for Records, Operations & Assessment

Education:

  • Master of Science in College Student Personnel Administration: Illinois State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education: Illinois State University

Best Part of My Job:

Helping to provide the academic advisors with the information and tools they need to make their jobs more efficient. Providing support to the DGS team and students to that the college academic experience is enjoyable and not stressful.

Interests:

Spending time with my grandkids, baking yummy desserts, camping and riding my Harley.

michelle
Michelle Ellis (she/her/hers)
Assistant Director for Access and Enrichment Programs

Education: 

  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration, Higher Education concentration: Chicago State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Advertising:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Best Part of My Job:

Being a witness to students’ growth and development as they learn to navigate a new space and explore their own identities

Interests:

Spending time with family, traveling, listening to music, and watching as much television as my eyeballs can handle.

Teri Farr
Teri Farr (she/her/hers)
Associate Director for Academic Advising and Student Success

Education:

  • Master of Science in History: Illinois State University
  • Bachelor of Science in History: Illinois State University

Best Part of My Job:

Working with students to help them realize their full potential and make decisions based upon experience. My favorite moment with a student is when they make the connection between what they are learning in the classroom to their ultimate career and educational goals.

Interests:

Gardening, home improvement and decorating, reading, vacation trips to the beach, and spending time with family and friends

Sarah Smothers
Sarah Reynolds Smothers (she/her/hers)
Assistant Director for First-Year Experience and Honors

Education:

  • Master of Arts in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education: Ball State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences: Eastern Illinois University

Best Part of My Job:

Supporting and interacting with some of the most talented and motivated students on campus; it is exciting to see what heights of success they can achieve!

Interests:

Spending time with family and friends, listening to music, checking out all the fun places in the Champaign-Urbana area

Sarah Watson
Sarah Watson (she/her/hers)
DGS Director

Education:

  • Master of Science, Community Counseling, Eastern Illinois University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Eastern Illinois University

Best Part of My Job:

Working with students as they discover and pursue their passions; working as part of an incredible and student-centered team

Interests:

Spending time with family; cheering for my kids at their sporting events; hiking, biking and all things outdoors; keeping up with my huge family (brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews)

Meet our Partners
Maurice Haney
Maurice Haney
OMSA Student Success Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Science in College Student Personnel: Arkansas State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Life Science: Logan University
  • Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Science (Communication Major, Chemistry Minor): University of Illinois

Best Part of My Job:

  • Using an inclusive, equity-centered, and holistic lens to advocate for and help students overcome challenges/barriers, navigate the University Campus along with its resources, and take advantage of the many opportunities available to enhance their overall ILLINOIS experience and development.

Interests:

  • Spending time with family, nature, life-long learning, service in underrepresented communities, music, cooking, and sports.

 

Jennifer Mendez
Jennifer Mendez
OMSA Student Success Advisor

Education:

  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Student Access and Success: University of Michigan 
  • Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Languages and Cultures: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Best Part of My Job:

  • Mentoring students to realize their full potential through the breadth of opportunity available to them at the University of Illinois.
Matilda Smith-Thompson
Matilda Smith-Thompson
Embedded Clinical Counselor

Education: 

  • Master of Social Work, Mental Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Bachelor of Arts, Communications, Wesleyan College