About Us

Our Staff

Leadership

Our leadership team is both experienced and passionate about undergraduate student success. They work diligently on creating the structure and data support for the team of Academic Advocates and Intake staff.

Leslie Tod staff photo

Leslie Tod, Director
She/Her/Hers
tod@usf.edu
I am privileged to work with a team of passionate Academic Advocates, who believe that all our undergraduate students can and will be successful. We welcome you and want to hear about your experience.

I joined Undergraduate Studies in 2013 as the first Academic Advocate. Since then, this office has grown to nine Academic Advocates supporting all our students seeking to complete their first undergraduate degree. We all come from different backgrounds to find our way to working with students. For me, I grew up in the Midwest with five siblings and a large extended family. I moved to Florida when I was 21 to study for my master’s degree at USF and during the 1990s I lived and worked in England. I returned to Florida and USF in 2000 as an adjunct instructor and in 2005 became an academic advisor in my home department of Communication.

In over 30 years of service to students, I have gained a deep respect for the diverse and individual journeys students experience in pursuit of their education. I hear you, I believe you, and I support you.

Kim Williams staff photo

Kim Williams, Data Manager
kimwilliams@usf.edu
I work to provide Academic Advocates with information they use to identify students who need assistance.  Our office was founded on the belief that all students can and will be successful.

I am one of the founding members of the Office of Academic Advocacy, but have been with USF for over 35 years and have lived my entire life in the Tampa area.  My interest in data came from a desire to help all students succeed. I believe that knowledge is power and the more we know about our students and the challenges they face the more we can help them be successful.    

First Year Persistence Advocates

Your First Year Persistence Advocates are committed to your successful transition through your first year at USF. They work collaboratively across the institution to ensure they can offer the best options for your individual needs.

adees

Dr. Ashley Dees, Lead Advocate
She/Her/Hers
dees@usf.edu
I enjoy working with students while helping them transition from high school to college. I strongly believe every student at USF is capable of being successful when provided the right resources and support. I make every effort to get to know a student and create an academic plan that meets their goals.

I joined the Office of Academic Advocacy in 2016. Prior to joining this team, I served as an Academic Advisor at USF for four years. Before joining USF, I worked at a small private fashion business college in New York and at Florida State University. I earned a M.S. in Higher Education from Florida State University and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Higher Education from USF. 

Ramirez

Zulmaly Ramírez
She/Her/Hers
zramirez@usf.edu
My goal is to assist students in navigating and transitioning to college, while having a positive experience. I faced the challenges of transition first hand when I moved to the US, so I can relate to this with many students. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and after completing my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, I moved to Tampa and encountered a big cultural adjustment. However, I found a support system that assisted me in achieving professional and personal growth.

I pursued a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and have been working in Higher Education for over 12 years. I joined USF in 2015 and found my niche here, as I am able to work with students, provide support, and build amazing relationships. In addition to advocacy I am an adjunct instructor, which helps me connect with students in a different capacity, allowing me to better serve them during their first year.

PROGRESSION TO GRADUATION ADVOCATES

Your Progression to Graduation Advocates provide support from your second spring semester to graduation at USF. They collaborate with other offices on campus to help you overcome challenges that may impact your path to graduation and identify resources for your overall success.

swray

Sarah Wray, Lead Advocate
She/Her/Hers
swray@usf.edu
I am very lucky because I get to work closely with USF’s amazing and diverse student population. I have been in higher education for more than 15 years, and I continuously am impressed by the creativity, passion, grit, and intelligence that I see from students. I myself started as a student at USF many years ago and got degrees in English and Library & Information Science. After living in Georgia and South Carolina, I came back to USF to work as an Academic Advisor for several years before joining this office as an Academic Advocate. Currently, I assist students on their pathways to graduation, and I recognize every student is on their own personal journey. No matter the journey, I want all students to feel welcome, respected, and safe during their college experience.

gshepherd

Ginny Shepherd
shepherd3@usf.edu
I joined USF and the Academic Advocacy team in 2016. In my role, I provide support to continuing students in academic distress to help them persist to graduation. My favorite aspect of this work is helping students in a wide variety of circumstances overcome barriers to completing their degrees and being their cheerleader to success. Previously, I worked in other offices of higher education including transition programs, study abroad, and mental health counseling. I have a M.Ed. in Counselor Education from North Carolina State University and am a National Certified Counselor. 

Adrienne Pollard

Adrienne Pollard
She/Her/Hers
apollard@usf.edu
I am new to the Office of Academic Advocacy as of 2021, but I have been with USF since 2014 and have worked in higher education for over 15 years, including undergraduate admissions, financial aid, and most recently academic advising for the past five years.  I firmly believe that every student has the potential to achieve their educational and career goals and I thoroughly enjoy helping them do that.  I value developing relationships based in respect and trust with students.  I want to know you as a whole person so I can best assist you along your path to graduation.

I am a transplant to the Tampa area and am originally from Connecticut, where I earned my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.  I also lived in Pennsylvania while earning my M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Pennsylvania.  My family, including two teenage sons, and I have lived here since 2009 and love the warmth of both the weather and the people here.

Transfer Student Transitions Advocates

Your Transfer Student Transitions Advocates are specialists in the unique needs of our USF transfer students. They are here to support you from Orientation to Graduation and work collaboratively on creating a culture of support specific to the needs of transfer students.

ahenderson

Dr. Anthea Henderson, Lead Advocate
She/Her/Hers
ahenderson1@usf.edu 
I joined this amazing team of advocates in 2016. I have the privilege of working with students who are faced with unique circumstances and may require assistance with finding the right resources. It is my personal belief that with the right support, you will succeed!

As a native of Antigua, West Indies and having grown up in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, I understand the challenge of transitioning to a very different culture. Though my heart and cultural roots will always reside in the Caribbean, Tampa has very much become home. My family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where I completed high school. I then attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and earned a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Psychology. I am currently a candidate for my PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision at USF, and I am a Certified Program Evaluator.

My areas of expertise, as an experienced trainer and consultant, include cultural competence, social justice, teamwork, effective communication, interpersonal relationships, and a variety of counseling specific topics.  I have taught “Multicultural Perspectives in Human Services” for over 10 years as an adjunct at HCC. I enjoy providing my students with the space to gain insight into their own beliefs and behaviors while accepting the challenge of listening to and learning from others.

I welcome the opportunity to spend some time getting to know our USF students and to understand how I can better support you. Together, we will determine what opportunities at USF will be most beneficial to your experience.  I look forward to celebrating your accomplishments as you achieve your academic goals. 

mason

Andrew Mason
He/Him/His
asmason@usf.edu
As a Transfer Advocate, I get to work with transfer students – like myself – to help them achieve their academic and professional goals. I have been at USF in some capacity since 2011 and have gained valuable experience as a high school teacher, a college admissions representative, and an academic advisor. I also currently teach first time in college students who are a part of our Exploratory Curriculum Major. I pursued a bachelor degree at Florida State University in 2009. I moved to Tampa in 2011 and earned a master degree at the USF in 2014.

Although I have worked in various educational environments, one thing has always remained consistent – nothing will stand in the way of person whose actions are in alignment with their goals. I have worked with students from all sorts of backgrounds overcome adversity and achieve some rather impressive accomplishments. The most rewarding part of my job is coaching students through difficult situations and watching that student become confident and empowered to tackle any future challenge. 

cwalters

Carly Walters
cjwalters@usf.edu
As a former transfer student, I empathize with the unique and individual experiences students can encounter as they pursue their undergraduate aspirations. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and a MFA in Poetry from Florida State University, I changed professional directions to pursue higher education, holding fulfilling roles such as the Program Manager for Florida State University’s Center for Success Coaching and the Coordinator of Retention and Counseling Services at Pasco-Hernando State College. In 2018, I began my current position at USF as a Transfer Advocate with the Office of Academic Advocacy.

Since commencing my work in higher education in 2009, I have been fortunate enough to work with diverse student populations, including first generation, first time in college, and non-traditional students (some who are parents like me!) I am trained in Mental Health First Aid, and I firmly believe students need to be supported from a holistic standpoint so as to ensure they are empowered both academically but emotionally as well.

My personal and professional goal is to ensure you feel heard and emboldened to thrive here at USF. I believe in your academic ambitions, and I look forward to watching you succeed! 

INTAKE tEAM

Our Intake Team is likely your first point of contact. They are dedicated to listening to your concerns, so that they can best triage your needs and connect you with the most appropriate resource.

Pedro1

Pedro Henry - Intake Coordinator
phenry2@usf.edu
I support advocates with student cases, outreach, and programming. I am a two-time USF graduate and hold a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. I am currently pursuing my second master’s degree in Learning Design and Technology at USF. 

Victoria Weade

Victoria Weade  - Graduate Assistant
She/Her/Hers
Originally from Galveston, Texas, I completed my Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at Dallas in May of 2020.  I am currently pursuing a M.Ed. in College Student Affairs at USF. As someone who’s the first in their family to earn a college degree, I understand the many challenges that students face, and that no two paths are alike. I look forward to learning your story and helping you accomplish your goals.