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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition


See the current and past Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates.

2022 Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates

Castillo Headshot

Elizabeth "Liz" Castillo

Liz Castillo is a Chicana higher education professional, playwright and poet who has devoted her career to serving first year students from historically excluded populations. She fell in love with working with first year students as a recruiter at Sul Ross State University. In 2017 Ms. Castillo brought her passion, creativity, and energy to St. Philip’s College when she accepted the position of Director of Student Success. Ms. Castillo was drawn to St. Philip’s College for its designation as the only college to be both an HBCU and an HSI. 

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Heidi Croatt 

Dr. Heidi Croatt is a faculty member in the Communication Studies department at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. She began her role as the First Year Experience Coordinator in 2015 and has transformed the program into an invaluable equity-minded resource for first-year students who need to overcome structural barriers to succeed in college. Under Dr. Croatt’s leadership, FYE has grown into a learning program that is now part of the fabric of the Anoka-Ramsey student experience. She has consistently shown her ability to be innovative, engaging, and adaptable while continually seeking ways to warmly engage and involve not only first-year students, but the faculty and staff who are oftentimes their first points of contact. Dr. Croatt is an effective and caring leader, who cherishes each student while intentionally planning a creative vision for this interdisciplinary program.

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Matthew Holsapple

Matthew Holsapple has been the dean of student success at Husson University since 2018. Prior to that he was the director of the Center of Academic Achievement and Retention at Hood College; the director of the Advising Center and a student success coordinator at the University of Maine at Machias; and an academic advisor at Andover College.   He completed his B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Maine in Orono in 2004. In 2013 he earned an M.A. in liberal studies with a concentration in ancient philosophy and history from this same institution.

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Andrea "Annie" Keith  

Andrea “Annie” Keith is Director of New Student Orientation and Student Transition Programs at Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, Virginia).  A decorated professional, Annie’s work bridges enrollment, academic affairs, and student affairs as she orients new first-year and transfer students to Randolph-Macon College every year.  After a 15-year career in college admissions, Annie intentionally sought a role where she could engage with students throughout their college experience.  Since 2017, Annie has transformed Randolph-Macon’s support for new students.  Her successful work to reimagine new student orientation and peer support in the first year has been presented and published in several peer-reviewed settings.

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Patricia Moran Micks  

Patricia Moran Micks serves as the Assistant Dean for the First-Year at the University of Texas at Austin.  She has successfully managed new cross-campus initiatives that push the envelope and challenge traditional methods and ideas in higher education.  Over the last decade, she has been instrumental in transforming the core curriculum through the renowned Signature Course program as well as supporting student in their academic, developmental, and social transition through learning communities. More recently, she served as co-chair of the First-Year on the Forty taskforce, which coordinated campus-wide efforts to better connect students with faculty, staff, and peers.

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Shannon O'Neill  

Dr. Shannon O’Neill is an accomplished and award-winning higher education administrator and advocate. At Albion College, she serves as the Associate Dean for Student Success and Director of the Cutler Center for Student Success and Academic Achievement. Launched in the fall of 2020, the Cutler Center is a one-stop-shop for supporting students and removing barriers to academic success. In her role as Director, Dr. O’Neill works with colleagues across campus to identify and address systemic barriers to academic success. She manages a team that offers holistic student support resources, including academic coaching and tutoring, accessibility services, fellowship advising, financial advising, quantitative skills coaching, writing support and mentoring. Dr. O’Neill has a passion for engaged learning. She has taught community-engaged courses, created academic travel experiences to examine gender equality in the Nordic countries, and immigration/human rights issues in the American Southwest. In addition, she spent several years working in the addiction treatment field looking at HIV and harm-reduction practices. She began her professional life as an analyst for a training and consulting firm helping organizations to address issues of cultural diversity and sexual harassment prevention.

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Nicholas Petty  

Nicholas Petty is the Executive Director of the Graduation Success Coaching Office at Cleveland State University. His research and professional expertise include student success, student persistence and retention in higher education. Mr. Petty’s aspiration is to lead efforts in transformative programming that will ensure equitable educational opportunities for all students, particularly students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. He is committed to bridging the retention gap for first generation students and students identified as at-risk for college drop-out to boost their on-time graduation rates.

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Kateryna Schray  

Dr. Kateryna Schray is the founding Director of the Center for Student Success at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V. She earned her BA in English at La Salle University, her MA at Gerogetown and her Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill. She joined Marshall’s English Department as a medievalist and language historian in the fall of 1996. For decades, walking into the classroom was the best part of her workday, but in recent years she has found a new passion for – and genuine joy in – student success. Dr. Schray is an award-winning teacher and a productive scholar. Her accolades include the WV Faculty Merit Foundation Professor of the Year Award in 2013, the Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year State Award in 2014, and every teaching award Marshall offers at every level. Her many publications cover a wide range of topics in literary criticism, pedagogy and the scholarship of teaching and learning. In addition to over twenty-five years of college teaching, Dr. Schray has served in various capacities in Marshall’s English department, taught in Marshall’s Yeager program, and held a Hedrick Teaching Fellowship in Marshall’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She has served as the coordinator of numerous retention initiatives and director of Marshall’s Writing Across the Curriculum program; she was also part of Marshall’s team for the HLC Academy for Student Persistence and Completion. Dr. Schray credits her generous colleagues and supportive family for her success. She and her husband Jim have four children, two at Marshall and two in high school. 

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Starr Wentzel

Starr Wentzel is the Director of First-Year Courses and Learning Communities at Eastern Kentucky University. In this role, Ms. Wentzel assists in the transitional experience of first-year students from high school to college. Starr’s passion is to encourage and engage students while inspiring growth through teaching and mentoring. A first-generation college graduate from rural eastern Kentucky, she is dedicated to supporting students and meeting them where they are. She is a two-time graduate of EKU and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Starr enjoys spending time with her husband, Nick, and their two daughters, Dakota and Arwen.

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Erin Weston  

Dr. Erin Weston is the Director of the First-Year Experience at Georgia College. She has twenty years of experience in higher education, holding positions in housing, academic advising, bridge programs, and first-year programming. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia College Student Affairs Administration Ph.D. program. Her dissertation focused on increasing antiracist activism among white college students. Her current research is aimed at understanding the experiences of fat-bodied students.


Past Recipients

Year Name Institute
2021 Nicole Carr University of South Alabama
2021 Lorenzo Eduvala University of Guam
2021 Tracey Glaessgen Missouri State University
2021 Peter Higgins Gordon State College
2021 Allison Hoffmann Northwest Missouri State University
2021 Renique Kersh Northern Illinois University
2021 Nicholas Koberstein Keuka College
2021 Damon Kraft Kansas Wesleyan University
2021 Crystal Pitrois Greenville Technical College
2021 Asif Wilson Harold Washington College
2020 Amy Baldwin University of Central Arkansas
2020 DeOnte Brown Clemson University
2020 Carol Dochen Texas State University in San Marcos
2020 Julie McLaughlin Cincinnati State
2020 Katherine Powell Berry College
2020 Rebecca Royal Union County College
2020 Gregory Singleton Austin Peay State University
2020 Heather Thrush Wabash College
2020 Mary Ellen Wade Loyola University
2020 Annette Walstad Carroll College
2019 Crystal Benedicks Wabash College
2019 Katie Chartier College of the Desert
2019 Anneke Chy University of Texas at Austin
2019 Robin Cunningham Seton Hall University
2019 Brigitte Lahme Sonoma State University
2019 Don Nix University of Arkansas
2019 René Sawyer Greenville Technical College
2019 Calley Stevens-Taylor Ceder Crest College
2019 Lorett Swank Southeastern Louisiana University
2019 John Wegner Angelo State University
2018 Courtney Bringley  Paul Smith's College
2018 Tim Cairy  Widener University
2018 Christopher Francisco Oklahoma State University
2018 Lynn Gillette Nicholls State University
2018 Ernest Jefferies Davidson College
2018 Amber Morgan Greenville Technical College
2018 Paz Oliverez California State University, Dominquez Hills
2018 Joanne Pederson California State University, San Marcos
2018  David Rizzo  University of California, Davis
2018 Jennie Towner Hartford Community College
2017 Alan Bearman  Washburn University 
2017 Lauren Bell Randolph-Macon College
2017 Gary Bowling Northwest Vista College
2017 Herbert Bruce Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
2017 Jodi Calvert Three Rivers Community College
2017 Deirdre Heistad University of Northern Iowa
2017 Marisel Herrera Arizona State University
2017 Beverly Kahn Farmingdale State College
2017 Michael Puma Loyola University Maryland
2017 Jennifer Young Calumet College of St. Joseph
2016 Dante Cantú State University of New York at New Paltz
2016 Chris Caplinger Georgia Southern University
2016 Jenn Daniels Lyon College
2016 Brenda Dede Clarion University
2016 Patsy Fischer Seward County Community College/Area Technical School
2016 Sonia Maria University of New Mexico
2016 Erin Kimura-Walsh Santa Clara University
2016 Nacy KingSander Texas A&M University – Kingsville
2016 Gerald Poe Wilberforce University
2016 Marnelle Alexis Stephens MacCormac College
2015 Gregory Budzban Southern Illinois University 
2015 Michele Campagna Montclair State University
2015 Frank Collins University of New Brunswick
2015 Richard Gebauer Cabrini College
2015 Christy Henry Wesleyan College
2015 Vincent J. Kloskowski III Saint Joseph's College
2015 Shannon McCasland Aims Community College
2015 Ann Seavey Gordon College
2015 Jill Simons Arkansas State University
2015 Maria Villaseñor California State University, Monterey Bay
2014 Barbara Boyette Guilford College (undergraduate institution: Washington University)
2014 Peter Ellard Siena College (undergraduate institution: Fordham University)
2014 Tracy Gottlieb Seton Hall University (undergraduate institution: Seton Hall University)
2014 April Heaney University of Wyoming (Undergraduate institution: Casper College)
2014 April Mann University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (undergraduate institution: Mississippi State University)
2014 Colin J. Morris Manhattanville College (undergraduate institution: University of Manchester (UK))
2014 Cynthia Mosqueda El Camino College (undergraduate institution: University of California, Los Angeles)
2014 David T. Ouimette University of Connecticut (undergraduate institution: Gettysburg College)
2014 Shelagh Rose Pasadena City College (undergraduate institution: Pasadena City College)
2014 Phyllis Simpson Our Lady of the Lake College (undergraduate institution: Louisiana State University)
2013 Darian Burwell Gallaudet University
2013 Tamara Clunis Amarillo College
2013 Keisha L. Hoerrner Kennesaw State University
2013 Brad E. Hollingshead Medaille College
2013 Virginia McAleese Paul Smith’s College
2013 Sally K. Murphy California State University, East Bay
2013 Gregory D. Robinson Olive-Harvey College
2013 Michael Salmon Marymount Manhattan College
2013 Cheryl Spector California State University, Northridge
2013 Jayme Millsap Stone University of Central Arkansas
2012 Margaret Garroway Howard Community College
2012 Andrew Grant Walsh University
2012 Nicole Hendersen Southern Connecticut State University
2012 John Lanning University of Colorado Denver
2012 Katherine Lehman Otterbein University
2012 Amybeth Maurer Elgin Community College
2012 Christine M. Nowik Cedar Crest College
2012 Karen Palmunen Saint Joseph College
2012 Andrew Person Mercy College
2012 Karen Weathermon Washington State University
2011 Julie Amon Case Western Reserve University
2011 Michelle Bandla SUNY Oswego
2011 Fabania DesRosiers Dominican College of Blauvelt
2011 Lizabeth Doherty Mohawk Valley Community College
2011 Rachel Duff Anderson Siena Heights University
2011 Marsha Fralick Cuyamaca Community College
2011 Keldon Henley Ouachita Baptist University
2011 Marilyn Kurata University of Alabama at Birmingham
2011 Kia Kuresman Goucher College
2011 Denise Rode Northern Illinois University
2010 Christine Benson Madonna University
2010 Dale B. Billingsley University of Louisville
2010 Harvest Collier Missouri University of Science and Technology
2010 Christa D. Fye Hampden-Sydney College
2010 Stacy Gilbert Louisiana Tech University
2010 Richard Reid South Dakota State University
2010 Sarah K. Shutt J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
2010 Stanley D. Singleton Paine College
2010 Tonya Strickland Bainbridge College
2010 Nancy Walburn University of Alabama at Birmingham
2009 Debra K. Borden Corning Community College
2009 Lisa Harris Bortman Whittier College
2009 Felicia L. Ganther College of Lake County
2009 Jennifer Griggs Butler University
2009 Steven Higgins Ohio State University at Lima
2009 Christy Price Dalton State College
2009 Ralph J. Rascati Kennesaw State University
2009 Michele Rasmussen Duke University
2009 D. Kim Sawrey University of North Carolina, Wilmington
2009 Gayle A. Williams Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
2008 Carrie Brimhall Minnesota State Community and Technical College – Fergus Falls Campus
2008 Nannette Commander Georgia State University
2008 Lynita Cooksey Arkansas State University
2008 James Diedrick Agnes Scott College
2008 Robert H. Garvey College of the Holy Cross
2008 Russell Lowery-Hart West Texas A&M University
2008 Steady H. Moono Montgomery County Community College
2008 DeLaine Priest University of Central Florida
2008 Alison Ridley Hollins University
2008 George Roundy University of Puget Sound
2007 Rebecca Ament Zane State College
2007 Robert J. Anderson The College of New Jersey
2007 Paul Arcario LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York
2007 Tim Boatmun Southeastern Oklahoma State University
2007 Leanna Fenneberg Saint Louis University
2007 Mariana J. Lebron Syracuse University
2007 Pamela M. Milloy Grand View College
2007 Pamela Person University of Cincinnati
2007 Maria C. Bennett Rose Fairmont State University
2007 William J. Tenbrunsel Roanoke College
2006 Dolores Bertoti Alvernia College
2006 Aaron M. Brower University of Wisconsin – Madison
2006 Dorothy Harris Trinity University (Washington)
2006 Laurie Lynn Hazard Bryant University
2006 Jennifer Ounjian-Auque Contra Costa College
2006 Adele Pittendrigh Montana State University
2006 Zaide Pixley Kalamazoo College
2006 Adrian Rodriguez Butler Community College
2006 Joni Webb Petschauer Appalachian State University
2006 Peter White University of New Mexico
2005 Dennis Cook Gloucester County College
2005 Phyllis Cremer Woodbury University
2005 Marcella H. Esler SUNY College at Brockport
2005 Lois Fennelly Bethune-Cookman College
2005 Mabel G. Freeman The Ohio State University
2005 Carole L. Isaak Elizabethtown College
2005 Richard Kirk Texas State Technical College – Harlingen
2005 Cheryl A. Rice State University of West Georgia
2005 Philip Shahbaz Azusa Pacific University
2005 Maggy Smith University of Texas at El Paso
2004 Earl G. Bagley Columbus State University
2004 Rosemary King Carr Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
2004 Kathleen S. Evans State University of New York College at Oswego
2004 Jason Finkelstein Bronx Community College
2004 Jeffrey L. Hale Southeastern Oklahoma State University
2004 Patricia Maestro Mount San Antonio College
2004 Eric L. Newhall Occidental College
2004 Janice Odom North Carolina State University
2004 Robert M. Smith Slippery Rock University
2004 Dorothy P. Ward University of Texas at El Paso
2003 Cassandre Giguere Alvarado University of Texas at Austin
2003 Valery Y.R. Bates-Brown Virginia State University
2003 Kay Dean Bethea Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – Jefferson Davis Campus
2003 Glenn Blalock Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
2003 Emily F. Cutrer Arizona State University West
2003 Michael A. Dunn Radford University
2003 Vivia L. Fowler Columbia College
2003 Joel Nossoff University of New Mexico
2003 David Rehm Mount Saint Mary’s College
2003 Laurel Williamson Lower Columbia College
2002 Sarah J. Bumgarner University of North Carolina at Asheville
2002 Mona J. Casady Southwest Missouri State University
2002 Andrew Dunham Albion College
2002 Kathleen Ann Gover Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
2002 Robert E. Hawkinson Willamette University
2002 Loann King Kennedy-King College
2002 Rhonda Mandel Oswego State University
2002 Francine G. McNairy Millersville University
2002 Valdrie Walker Sweet Briar College
2002 Katie Watkins Dean College
2001 Theresa P. Ammirati Connecticut College
2001 Eija Ayravainen CUNY, Hunter College
2001 Ingrid M. Blood Pennsylvania State University
2001 Joseph B. Cuseo Marymount College
2001 Duncan S. Harris University of Wyoming
2001 Gail H. McKee Roanoke College
2001 Ruth Ann Policella State University of New York at Potsdam
2001 Chris Staub William Rainey Harper College
2001 Margaret Moore Willen Eastern New Mexico University
2001 Fran Zaniello Northern Kentucky University
2000 John Back Biola University
2000 John Burney Loras College
2000 Luther Hughes Western Kentucky University
2000 Patricia Kowal Blackburn College
2000 Jerry Pattengale Indiana Wesleyan University
2000 Candace Ready Piedmont Technical College
2000 Judith Smith University of California, Los Angeles
2000 Kurt Spellmeyer Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2000 David Whitman University of Wyoming
2000 Allen Zimmerman Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute
1999 Susanne Adams Sandhills Community College
1999 Eugene Bales Bethany College
1999 James Brink Texas Tech University
1999 Mildred Church Dandridge The Sage Colleges
1999 Lisa Donato Essex County College
1999 Douglas Gaffin University of Oklahoma
1999 Vivian Garcia Conover State University of New York at Fredonia
1999 Becky Houck University of Portland
1999 Nancy King Kennesaw State University
1999 Arthur Mori Chaminade University of Honolulu
1999 Joseph O’Sullivan Bronx Community College
1999 Susan Schapiro State University of New York at Buffalo
1999 Raymond Schwarz State University of New York at New Paltz
1998 Debra Bell Baker Aims Community College
1998 Andrew Bushko Widener University
1998 Linda Carter Cumberland College
1998 David DeFrain Central Missouri State University
1998 Scott Evenbeck Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis
1998 Kathy Fish Cumberland College
1998 Sally Roden University of Central Arkansas
1998 LaVell Saunders Utah State University
1998 Adrian Schiess Xavier University
1998 Deborah Shaw Conner Auburn University
1998 Kathleen Skubikowski Middlebury College
1998 JoAnn Vicks Mary Holmes College
1998 Arthur Wheeler University of Portland
1997 Catherine Andersen Gallaudet University
1997 Patricia Bayer Richard Ohio University
1997 Rennie Brantz Appalachian State University
1997 Dan Fredricks Saint Francis College
1997 Fred Hinson Western Carolina University
1997 Michael Kerman Adirondack Community College
1997 Michael Moore Georgia Southern University
1997 John Slade Forsyth Technical Community College
1997 Morris Wray High Point University
1997 W. C. Burriss Young Harvard College
1996 Jeanne Block Goodan Midway College
1996 Jay Chaskes Rowan College of New Jersey
1996 Alan Dillingham Illinois State University
1996 John Gillen Castleton State College
1996 Sandra Gregerman University of Michigan
1996 Audrey Harrigan-Lamont LaGuardia Community College
1996 William Potter Alma College
1996 Bill Ramage Castleton State College
1996 Judith Rizzi University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
1996 Mary Seeger Grand Valley State University
1996 Beverly Slaughter Brevard Community College
1996 Amanda Yale Slippery Rock University
1995 Grant Cornwell St. Lawrence University
1995 Nancy Dishner East Tennessee State University
1995 Joan Ehren Saint Xavier University
1995 David Gilbert Linfield College
1995 William Hartel Marietta College
1995 Connie Hood Tennessee Technological University
1995 Judith Hooper Mission College
1995 Sung Bok Kim State University of New York University at Albany
1995 Margaret Maguire State University of New York College of Oneonta
1995 Nancy Mergler University of Oklahoma
1995 Richard Wallace College of Alameda
1994 Claudia Barrett Kent State University at Salem
1994 Thomas Carskadon Mississippi State University
1994 Glenda Crippen Purdue University
1994 David Eggebrecht Concordia University, Wisconsin
1994 Gretchen Gall Marian College of Fond du Lac
1994 Dee Allen Goedeke High Point University
1994 Jane Kennedy Brevard Community College
1994 Neil Rudin State University College at Buffalo
1994 Timothy Walter University of Tulsa
1994 Christine Wolf University of Texas at San Antonio
1993 Lorene (Sallie) Brown El Camino College
1993 MaryKaye Cochran Longwood College
1993 Asa Eldh Wheaton College
1993 Bruce Janasiewicz Florida State University
1993 Sandra Powers University of Charleston
1993 Stuart Rubner University of Wisconsin – Parkside
1993 Kathleen Schur Inver Hills Community College
1993 Eleanor Terry William Jewell College
1993 Myron Umerski St. Cloud State University
1993 Jerry Warner Northern Kentucky University
1992 Carson Carr University of Albany, State University of New York
1992 Thomas Flynn Mount Saint Mary’s College
1992 M. Cecile Forté Suffolk Community College
1992 Karen Greenberg Hunter College of The City University of New York
1992 Carol Henley Howard University
1992 Gary Kramer Brigham Young University
1992 Natalie Krawitz Stephens College
1992 Robert McKelvain Abilene Christian University
1992 Meryl Sussman LaGuardia Community College
1992 Ana Maria Torres Aybar Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico
1992 Carl Wahlstrom Genesse Community College
1992 Neari Warner Southern University
1991 Ralph Anttonen Millersville University
1991 Dena Beeghly Cecil Community College
1991 Betty Ruth Cully Enterprise State Junior College
1991 Joyce Donatelli Wilson College
1991 Richard Guarasci St. Lawrence University
1991 Jay Mechling University of California, Davis
1991 W. Laurance Quane Illinois State University
1991 Cynthia Sellers Fort Valley State College
1991 O. Kenneth Webb Appalachian State University
1991 David Woodyard Denison University
1990 Ann Ferren American University
1990 Peter Gold State University of New York at Buffalo
1990 James Iaccino Illinois Benedictine College
1990 Douglas Kenny Westchester Community College
1990 Mary McMann Onondaga Community College
1990 Jack Meiland University of Michigan
1990 Mary Oestereicher Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
1990 Brenda Rust-O’Beirne University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
1990 Lois Sculco Seton Hill College
1990 Maria Vallejo Bergen Community College

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