Meet the Staff


Dana Saunders, Director sfbullet
(336) 334-5730,

danaDana Saunders has been involved in higher education for more than 12 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Roanoke College, and graduated with a master’s degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina (USC). While at USC, Dana worked in the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, which sparked her interest in first-year students and academic success initiatives. At UNCG, Dana was previously the associate director in Undergraduate Student Excellence where she was responsible for the ongoing development of new academic support initiatives, as well as the office’s strategic planning and assessment. She also worked as the coordinator of UNCG’s first-year seminar program. Dana’s professional interests include exploratory (undecided) majors, students in academic recovery, social justice initiatives, University policy, program assessment, and strategic planning in higher education. Outside of work, Dana is pursuing her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations in the School of Education at UNCG. When she is away from campus, Dana enjoys local tourism, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her partner and children.


Kate Humphries, Assistant Director of Student Support sfbullet
(336) 334-5730,

kateKate Humphries has been a part of the Students First Office since 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UNC-Chapel Hill and an M.S./Ed.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UNC-Greensboro.  Kate enjoys meeting with students and connecting them with the services they need to be successful.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching movies, playing board games, and spending time with her husband, family, friends, and dog.




Dena Kowal, Student Support Advisor 
(336) 334-5730,

denaDena Kowal attended the University of North Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication. As an active student in both Greek life and the Communication Department, Dena developed a passion for working in higher education. She went on to pursue her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. Prior to working in the Students First Office, Dena worked in the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Community Service at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida. Dena is incredibly excited to be in the beautiful state of North Carolina and working with students to help make their college experience a meaningful one. In her free time, Dena enjoys traveling, exploring the outdoors and playing with her rescue dog, Titan.


Macy Nesom, Graduate Assistant for Student Support
(336) 334-5730,

MacyMacy is a first year graduate student at UNCG pursuing a degree in Couples and Family Counseling. She hopes to use this degree to eventually complete her doctorate in Medical Family Therapy. Originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma, Macy moved to North Carolina with her husband and puppy in August. She graduated with a degree in Human Development and Family Science from Oklahoma State University. Upon receiving her B.S., Macy worked as a transfer admissions counselor at Oklahoma State University. In her free time, Macy enjoys reading, hiking,playing board games with friends, and eating great Mexican food.



Academic Advising Team


Heather Searcy, Associate Director for Academic Advising sfbullet
(336) 334-5772,

heatherHeather Searcy attended East Carolina University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. It was while working with student athletes at ECU that Heather discovered her interest in pursuing a career in Higher Education. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at North Carolina State University. Throughout her two years at NC State Heather worked with student athletes, undeclared first-year students, and students on academic warning. She also worked as an intern at Meredith College, assisting with advising and registration, and supporting students facing academic difficulty. Heather served as an Exploratory Majors Advisor in the Students First Office for four years before taking on the Associate Director of Academic Advising role. In her spare time, Heather enjoys cheering on the Pirates and the Wolfpack, tackling DIY and home improvement projects, and spending time with her partner, Mike, and Golden Retriever, Beau.


Angie Allred, Exploratory Majors Academic Advisorsfbullet
(336) 256-8562,

angieAngie Allred is a proud graduate of NC State University. She has a B.S. in Agricultural Education with a minor in Horticulture Science; while at NCSU, she interned with the NC Future Farmers of America Association. After graduation, Angie taught Agricultural Education and served as an FFA advisor in Greensboro, NC, for seven years. She then earned an M. Ed. in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from UNC-Greensboro, where she worked in Student Services and Advising and served as a Leadership Development Coach. Through all these experiences she discovered her passion for working with college students and helping them identify and achieve their goals. In her spare time, Angie enjoys spending time with her partner and son, traveling, drinking coffee, reading, cheering on the Wolfpack, and thrift shopping.


Rickey Williams, Exploratory Majors Academic Advisor sfbullet
(336) 256-8540,

rickeyRickey Williams attended Western Kentucky University and earned his B.A. in Sociology. It was while working with his advisors that he was inspired to pursue a career in Higher Education. He went on to earn his M.A.E. in Student Affairs in Higher Education. He served as a graduate assistant in the Career Services Center where he developed an interest in working with students and gearing them towards their educational and career goals. He worked for four years working with first year students at Florida Gulf Coast University. It was there that he took a special interest in working with Exploratory students. Rickey is looking forward to applying this passion toward students in his new role as an Exploratory Majors Academic Advisor here at UNCG! Some of his interests include playing piano, guitar, drawing, and spending time doing outdoor activities with his partner.


Kristen Wade, Exploratory Majors Academic Advisor sfbullet
(336) 256-1265,

kristenKristen Wade earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke University. While working alongside fellow first-generation and limited-income students at Duke to create resources and support programs, she discovered her passion for working with college students. She went on to pursue her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration at the University of Vermont. During her time in Vermont, she enjoyed her position as an academic advisor in the College of Education and Social Services. She also worked as an intern supporting high school students who would be the first in their family to attend college through the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and served as a hearing officer for students in the Community Standards process at Champlain College. Her professional interests include academic advising, first-generation/limited-income student support programs, educational access initiatives, and social justice education. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, yoga, video games, spending time with friends, and cheering on the Blue Devils.


Paige Alven, Graduate Assistant for Exploratory Majors
(336) 334-3873,

PaigePaige is a first year graduate student at UNC-Greensboro pursuing her M.S./Ed.S degrees in School Counseling. She is originally from Johnson City, Tennessee and earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. During this time, she was an active member of the university’s marching band and participated in various psychology research labs. While working in the College of Liberal Arts Student Services office at Auburn, Paige developed an interest in academic advising in higher education and connecting incoming students with resources during their transition to college, and she is excited to further this passion as part of SFO’s Academic Advising team! In her spare time, Paige enjoys hiking, yoga, watching movies, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on the Auburn Tigers.


Kiara Baldwin, Graduate Assistant for Exploratory Majors
(336) 334-4892,

KiaraKiara graduated from UNC Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish and Religious Studies. During her undergraduate career, she obtained a position as a Peer Advisor for the Psychology Department. As a result, Kiara developed a passion for Student Affairs which lead to her receiving an additional position as a Peer Career Ambassador in the University Career Center. She also pioneered an organization at UNCC that helped students explore various majors and fields of work while volunteering in the community. In her free time, she enjoys painting in addition to spending quality time with loved ones.


Academic Recovery Team


Elena Medeiros, Associate Director for Academic Recovery sfbullet
(336) 334-3872,

elenaElena Medeiros attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned her B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Women’s Studies. She went on to earn her M.S. in Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which is when Elena first joined the UNCG community and began serving in a support role to undergraduate students. It was during this graduate school experience that she found a passion for supporting students as they navigate academic and personal hardship while trying to successfully earn their college degrees. After completing her master’s in 2014, Elena joined the Students First Office as the Coordinator of Academic Outreach. Elena worked as a coordinator for over four years before taking on the Associate Director of Academic Recovery role. When she’s not at work, Elena can usually be found reading/socializing in a local coffee shop, hanging at her boxing gym, or tackling an arts/craft project.


Whitney Scott, Academic Recovery Coordinatorsfbullet
(336) 256-8533,

whitneyWhitney Scott was the first in her family to earn a college degree when she attained her Bachelor of Arts in English from Ferrum College. From there, she went on to earn her Master of Arts in English and a post-baccalaureate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from UNCG in 2013. While she was in graduate school, Whitney worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Special Support Services program housed within UNCG’s Student Success Center. After graduation, Whitney took on multiple roles in the Federal TRiO Student Support Services program that supports first-generation students, low income students, and students with disabilities. Whitney is excited to return to UNCG and currently coordinates the ARS 120: Academic Connections in Education (ACE) program for students returning from academic suspension. In her spare time, Whitney enjoys reading, editing friends’ writing projects, and keeping her two cats from chewing up her origami crafts.


Gwyn Strickland, Teaching Assistant for Academic Recovery
(336) 334-3873,

gwynGwyn Strickland earned her bachelor’s degree in Business at UNCG and went on to work in several business organizations and also started her own equestrian services program. With a desire to work in the field of education, she returned to UNCG and earned a BA degree and Master of Arts degree in English, as well as a Master’s certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. During graduate school, she began working in the Student Success Center as an Academic Skills Specialist and soon discovered a love for helping students reach their academic goals. Gwyn is now delighted to work in the Students First Office as part of the Academic Recovery team. In her spare time, she enjoys horseback riding, kayaking, yoga, and spending time with her family.


Leah Bianco, Student Support Advisor for Academic Recovery
(336) 334-3467,

leahLeah Bianco earned her Bachelors of Science in Human Development and Family Studies, concentrating in Child, Youth, and Family Development at UNCG in 2016. Before attending UNCG she earned her Associates Degree in Pre-Social Work at Guilford Technical Community College. She was previously an Undergraduate Intern in the Students First Office and discovered a new interest in helping students in higher education. In the Fall of 2016 she started her job as a Program Assistant in the SFO. Leah assists with the academic appeals process as well as helps with technical aspects of the Starfish EARLY ALERT and Starfish CONNECT systems. She loves being a part of the SFO and assisting students and staff members on the Academic Recovery Team. In her spare time, Leah enjoys being with friends, doing crafts, watching movies, shopping, and traveling.


Hannah Koob, Graduate Assistant for Academic Recovery (ARS 120)
(336) 256-1299,

HannahHannah received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from North Carolina State University, in her hometown, Raleigh N.C. She is currently a first-year student pursuing her Master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health at UNCG. Hannah has worked one-on-one with students at Neighbor to Neighbor, a nonprofit mentoring organization in Southeast Raleigh that serves students from elementary school to high school. For the past year, she has also worked one-on-one with a teen in her counseling internship with a social services agency, AGAPE of N.C. She has enjoyed working with students and looks forward to gaining more experience with college students. In her free time, Hannah enjoys reading, playing sports, having board game nights with friends, and spending time with her fiance.


Genevieve Stafford, Graduate Assistant for Academic Recovery
(336) 334-5749,

GenevieveGenevieve is a first year graduate student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling in the Counselor Education Department. Before she made the move down to North Carolina, she earned her bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish at the Pennsylvania State University. During her time at Penn State, she worked as a writing and Spanish tutor and held the position of lab manager in a psychology research lab. Genevieve is excited to continue her passion of working with her fellow students at the Students First Office. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to podcasts while she tries out new recipes.


sfbulletwhite This image denotes persons having completed Safe Zone Training.