UAASC

Meet The Advisors & Staff of the University Advising and Academic Services Center

Michelle Yager, Director

Michelle Yager

Responsibilities – In addition to directing the University Advising and Academic Services Center (UAASC), Michelle serves as the Chair of the University-wide Council of Academic Advisors.

Biography – Michelle earned her B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation, completed an Elementary Teacher License program and earned her M.A in Human Growth and Development with an emphasis in School Guidance Counseling, all from the University of Iowa.

Lisa Melz-Jennings, Academic Success Coach

Lisa Melz-Jennings

Responsibilities – As the Academic Success Coach (ASC), Lisa meets one-on-one with undergraduate students to create an academic success plan, set goals, and share resources to help students achieve their academic goals in the classroom and beyond.

Biography – Lisa received her B.S. in Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst '93 and her M.S. in Sport Management from Western Illinois University '94. Before beginning in the the University Advising and Academic Services Center, Lisa spent 20 plus years working in Intercollegiate Athletics as an Administrator and Coach.

University Advising and Academic Services Center

Bryan Barker, Advisor

Bryan Barker

Responsibilities – In addition to advising UA and TAP students, Bryan serves as the University Advising Program Coordinator.

Biography – Bryan received his B.A. in film from Columbia and his M.A. in Cinema Studies from Chapman and has taught frequently within the discipline.

Julie Brines, Advisor


Julie O'Brien

Responsibilities – In addition to her work with University Advising and TAP students, Julie produces publications, such as the General Education Handbook. She also maintains the UAASC website and the tutoring function of the WIU Mobile App.

Biography – Julie received a B.A. in Communication, an M.S. in Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration, and an M.S. in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University. She also holds a Ph.D in Higher Education Administration from Illinois State University. Besides advising, Julie teaches for the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration at Western in an adjunct capacity.


Linda Thomas, Advisor

Linda Thomas

Responsibilities – In addition to advising UA and TAP students, Linda coordinates the Transitional Advising Program for Business.

Biography – Linda holds a B.S. in Business Education, a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling, and a Ph.D in Health Administration.


Niall Hartnett, Advisor

Niall Hartnett

Responsibilities – Niall advises students in the Office of Academic Services (OAS) Program. He is also the Graphic Media Facilitator for UAASC. In this capacity, he supervises a Graphic Design Student Worker and captures/publishes media for the center. Niall is also responsible for the WIU Advise Facebook page at facebook.com/wiuadvise.

Biography – Niall was born in Ireland. He came to the United States after receiving a B.A. in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin. He earned an M.S. in Educational Psychology from Indiana University.



Tim Johnson, Advisor

Tim Johnson

Responsibilities

Biography – Tim earned his B.A. in Social Work from Augustana College, South Dakota and his M.S. in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University.


Kelly Morris, Academic Advisor/OAS Statistician

Kelly Morris

Responsibilities – Kelly advises students in the Office of Academic Services (OAS) Program and is the Statistician for the OAS program. She assists students with: study skills, time management, test-taking strategies and note-taking. She gathers/reports data on OAS student performance at the end of each term. She particularly enjoys working with her students as they are learning to navigate their educational careers. "It is particularly gratifying to walk alongside (and sometimes guide) students as they are experiencing the 'Aha' moments" says Kelly.

Biography – Kelly earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and her M.A. in Math Education from the University of Northern Iowa. She began her career as an Elementary Teacher in Aurora, Colorado, for a few years. Kelly found her niche and has been working in Higher Education since 1991.


Renee Simpson, Advisor/Student Success Coordinator

Renee Simpson

Responsibilities – Renee advises students in the Office of Academic Services (OAS) Program and teaches the University 100, Personal Growth in Higher Education, a life skills transitional course for incoming freshmen. In addition, Renee is committed to exploring and researching new retention initiatives strategies for the University. She is responsible for delivery of quality developmental academic advising and also plans the registration for OAS students at SOAR and NSR programs.

Biography – Renee received a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Wyoming and earned her M.S. in Liberal Arts from Western Illinois University.

Support Staff

Debbie Carithers, Office Manager

Responsibilities – Debbie serves as an assistant to the UAASC Director by providing clerical support for the activities that involve the Center and the academic advising community.
Biography – Debbie has a B.S. in Photography/Media and a M.S. in Instruction Design and Technology from Western Illinois University.


Cheryl Rossio, Staff Clerk

Cheryl Rossio

Responsibilities – Cheryl serves as the processor for all freshman applications to the University that are referred to the Academic Services program, creating and maintaining all admission records for the Academic Services Program as well as corresponding with student applicants, parents and high school personnel.

Biography – Cheryl has a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies minoring in Sociology and Family and Consumer Science from Western Illinois University.

Graduate Students

Oscar Alvarez

Oscar Alvarez

Responsibilities – Oscar serves as an academic advisor for students in the OAS program, as well as works on committees and projects aimed at improving and developing student life on campus.

Biography – Oscar earned his B.A at Iowa State University. Oscar's favorite sports team is Chelsea FC, and he likes the cheesiest of puns. He is currently a first-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel program here at Western Illinois University.


Jessy Cheung

Jessy Cheung

Responsibilities – Jessy advises students in the University Advising, OAS, and pre-nursing conditional programs. He also coordinates the academic success workshops within Rocky's Resources, and serves on the Assessment and Professional Development & Networking committees within the Council of Academic Advisors.

Biography – Jessy received his BComm '16 from the University of Calgary in Canada. He is a second-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at Western Illinois University. He is a fan of Star Wars and enjoys English literature.


Britain Hamm

Britain Hamm

Responsibilities – Britain advises students in the Office of Academic Services (OAS) Program. He is also part of the group that oversees Rocky's Resources. His main concentration within the tutoring area is coordination with Tim Johnson of the tutors and scheduling.

Biography – Britain received his B.S. in Zoology from Western Illinois University in 2017. He enjoys spending his free time reading good fantasy books and quoting cheesy lines from romantic movies. Britain is currently a first-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at Western Illinois University.