Meet the Advisors, Academic Success Coaches, and Support Staff of the University Advising and Academic Support Center

Michelle Yager, Director

Michelle Yager

Responsibilities – In addition to directing the University Advising and Academic Support 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.

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 Pre-Nursing Conditional students, Julie chairs the Assessment Subcommittee for the Council of Academic Advisors and heads the committees for website updates for the Council and the UAASC office. 

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 research methods and statistics for the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration at Western in an adjunct capacity.

Tim Johnson, Advisor

Tim Johnson

Responsibilities – Tim is an academic advisor in the Reach Program and oversees Rocky's Resources.

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/Reach Statistician

Kelly Morris

Responsibilities – Kelly advises students in the Reach Program. She assists students with study skills, time management, test-taking strategies and note-taking. She gathers/reports data on Reach 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.

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.

Laura Casey, Graduate Assistant

Laura Casey

Responsibilities - Laura serves as academic coach.


Danielle Sharpe, Graduate Assistant

Danielle Sharpe

Responsibilities - Danielle serves as an academic advisor for students in the Reach program and as an academic success coach (ASC).

Biography – Danielle earned her B.A. in Communication with a minor in Leadership Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is currently a second-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel program here at Western Illinois University. Her favorite sports team is the Chicago Blackhawks, and she enjoys decorating for the holidays.

Brianna Williams, Graduate Assistant

Brianna Williams

Responsibilities - Brianna advises students in the Reach program and serves as an academic coach. She is also part of the group that oversees Rocky's Resources. Her main concentration within the tutoring area is coordination with Tim Johnson of the tutors and scheduling.