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Learn About the ASC

In this guide, students, faculty members, and staff can learn more about the ASC's tiers of service, policies, and staff.

The Academic Success Center (ASC) has knowledgeable staff who are excited to work with you and focus on your specific skill development needs and goals. Ask a Coach a question or schedule an appointment today!


 Dr. Ramon DainesRamon Daines

Hello, everyone! My name is Dr. Ramon Daines, and I serve as the Associate Director of the ASC. I have a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, an MLS in English for speakers of other languages, and a Doctorate of Education in English as a second language. I am passionate about helping others achieve their educational goals, and I have worked in learning centers for over twelve years. I hold my Learning Center Leadership certification through National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA) as well as coaching and tutoring certifications with the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) and the National Tutoring Association (NTA). I am also certified in Grant Proposal Writing and Program Evaluation. In the ASC, I promote a student-focused environment where coaches use technology and resources to assist students in being self-directed learners. I believe that it is my responsibility to help every student realize his or her potential not only as a student of academia but also as a citizen of the world. When I am not busy with the Academic Success Center, I enjoy spending time with my family. My favorite book is Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

Student Success Coach

Shelley GordonShelley Gordon-Baker

My name is Shelley Gordon, and I serve as the Student Success Coach in the ASC. I love assisting students with their writing skills. I earned a BA in English from Florida State University and an MFA in creative writing from Chatham University. A couple of my short stories have been published in online journals, and I co-authored a presentation on digital literacy for the 2017 International Conference on Learning. As an academic coach, I work with students to enhance their writing skills and understanding of the writing process. When I have the opportunity, I enjoy making homemade body products, baking, traveling, and drinking coffee. I also enjoy a good book, and a favorite of mine is I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. I look forward to working with you in the Academic Success Center. Happy learning!

Proofreading Coordinator

Med DuMezDr. Meg Roberts

Hello! My name is Dr. Meg Roberts, and I serve as an Academic Coach in the ASC. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, a Master of Arts in Higher Education, a Master of Arts in Biblical & Theological Studies, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education. Since my career has all been in higher education (including academic advising, adjunct teaching, and editing), I like to think of myself as a "Professional Nerd." My research interests include andragogy, service-learning, marginalized populations in higher education, and learning theory. Beyond all the books, I spend my time literally running in circles. I have completed one ultramarathon, 15 marathons, approximately 50 half marathons, and many other shorter races (so far...). My philosophy in academics and in running is encapsulated in a quote from John Bingham, "The miracle isn't that I finished; the miracle is that I had the courage to start." You had the courage to start a degree at NCU; I am part of the team that will help in the journey to the finish line.

Academic Coach-Proofreader

Anne SteketeeDr. Anne Steketee

Hi! I am Dr. Anne Steketee. I work as your ASC Proofreading Specialist. I have a B.A. in English from UCLA, M.Ed. from Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. in education from Chapman University in Orange, California. My research, writing, and publishing interests are varied, but they all coalesce under the umbrella of student engagement. Race and dis/ability, teacher training, postdigital considerations, secondary traumatic stress, and grief frameworks: I strive to keep the student at the center. I have experience teaching in PK-12, higher education, and beyond. My current teaching in higher education is fueled by writing with students, faculty, and even international teams. I am also an educational advocate, so collaboration is the heart of my educational practice. My goal at NCU is to support your work at NCU. In the words of Sherlock Holmes, “Crack on.” Let’s get at it!

Academic Coach - Writing

Ashley NewbyDr. Ashley Newby

My name is Dr. Ashley Newby and I am an Academic Coach in the ASC. I have an MA in Sociology of Education from New York University, and a Ph.D. in African American Studies and a certificate in urban education from Michigan State University. My research interests lie at the intersection of Hip-Hop culture and educational spaces. I have taught writing and rhetoric on the West Coast for the past 4 years and particularly enjoy helping students think about audience, organization, and clarity in their writing. When not teaching, I’m usually engaged in a heated card game with my daughter or reading a good book - Their Eyes Were Watching God is my absolute favorite.

Academic Coach - Writing and Statistics

Dr. Brandon SimmonsDr. Brandon D. Simmons

My name is Dr. Brandon D. Simmons, and I serve as an Academic Coach for writing and statistics in the ASC. I currently live in Clinton, North Carolina with my wife, Stacy, our son Bryce, our daughter Evelyn Grace, and my best friend, Hank (our Olde English Bulldogge). After graduation from Methodist College in 2005, I completed two Master of Arts degrees in health education and education with a focus in instructional technology as well as a graduate certificate in distance learning and administration at East Carolina University. It was a love for technology leadership and a desire to pursue a personal educational portfolio that convinced me to pursue two doctorates in education simultaneously: a PhD in curriculum and instruction with a focus in instructional technology and an EdD in educational leadership. I love coaching students on statistics and writing and especially enjoy assisting students with writing their research design and developing their statistical analysis skills. In my free time, I love spending time with my family and cheering on my WOLFPACK (NC State University). I look forward to working with you!

Academic Coach - Writing

Brian AunkstDr. Brian Aunkst

I am Dr. Brian Aunkst, and I am an academic coach for writing at the ASC. I earned my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University and two master’s degrees from Liberty University. I received my doctorate in educational leadership, also from Liberty; the topic of my dissertation was the relationship between student help-seeking behavior and writing self-efficacy. I live in Colorado with my wife and our two dogs. I was an engineering manager for over 23 years until I retired after working for Uncle Sam for 31 years. I love helping students improve their writing, especially in the areas of paragraph development and organization. I enjoy traveling, listening to classic rock, watching old movies (especially film noire), reading mystery novels, and playing video games.

Academic Coach - Writing

Dr. Briana NicholsonDr. Briana Nicholson

Greetings! My name is Dr. Briana Nicholson, and I serve as an Academic Coach for writing in the ASC. I have a bachelor’s and a master's degree in communications from Ohio State University and a doctoral degree in human services. I spent nearly ten years serving in my state’s department of higher education, holding various leadership and administrative positions. After serving my state for nearly 10 years, I made the decision to work with students directly at the university and college levels. I have chaired committees for doctorial students, taught courses in communications and human service disciplines, and volunteered extensively within my community. My goal as a coach is to provide each student with the tools they need to thrive and soar! My expertise is in qualitative methods and designs. In my coaching sessions, I focus on scholarly writing, flow and organization, and strategies to ensure rigor and quality in your work. I currently live in Dayton, Ohio with my family. I enjoy spending my downtime with family and friends, and I am an avid traveler, camper, and reader. I am also a classic movie fan, especially musicals!

Academic Coach - Writing and Statistics

Colleen PaeplowDr. Colleen Paeplow

Hi! My name is Dr. Colleen Paeplow, and I serve as an Academic Coach for writing and statistics in the ASC. Coaching students through their research process is my passion. I earned my doctoral degree in Educational Research from North Carolina State University in 2011. I have taught graduate courses related to statistical analyses and data-based decision-making and served on numerous doctoral committees. I currently lead a team of researchers who conduct a variety of program evaluations and research studies within the Wake County Public School System’s Data, Research, and Accountability Department, where I have worked for the past 20 years. Due to my varied experience conducting research and supporting students, I can help your learning of qualitative and quantitative methods and provide guidance as you strengthen your written communication skills. As a coach, I love working with graduate students to develop their research, guiding students to increase their understanding of research design and how best to communicate their work. When I am not helping others with their research, I enjoy traveling with my husband, spending time with my family, and practicing Taekwondo. I look forward to helping support your academic goals.

Academic Coach - Legal Writing

Gehrrie BellamyGehrrie Bellamy Esq.

Howdy! My name is Gehrrie D. Bellamy, and I am the Legal Writing Coach for ASC.  I hail from Houston, Texas, where I attended the University of Houston and received my BA in Political Science, and Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where I received my Juris Doctorate.  I have been an attorney for almost 15 years, and I am licensed to practice in Texas and Washington, D.C.  I enjoy helping students hone their legal writing and analysis skills, as well as provide guidance for tackling the bar exam.  In my free time, I actively spoil two very adorable Bichon Frisé puppies, Linen and Brightyn, and volunteer at various puppy rescue groups.

Academic Coach-Proofreader

Janice Cools StephensDr. Janice Cools Stephens

Hi, I’m Janice Cools Stephens and I am a Proofreading Specialist in the ASC. My B. A and PhD are in English and my MA is in Rhetoric and Professional Communication. I have certificates in Editing and Proofreading. I’ve always enjoyed teaching writing and writing about writing. My writing has been published in CEA forum and the Wisconsin English Journal and in books like Publishing in Rhetoric and Composition. Throughout my over 15 years in Higher-Ed, I’ve worked with both native and non-native speakers of English and have taught within the US as well as Internationally.  My goal as a coach is to provide compassionate feedback and support, helping you to build confidence on your journey to becoming a better writerly version of yourself. When I’m not coaching, I’m reading, conducting research for scholarly writing, exercising, and spending quality time with family and two Australian Shepherds.

Academic Coach - Statistics and Quantitative Design

Jeffry WhiteDr. Jeffry L. White 

My name is Dr. Jeffry L. White, and I serve as an Academic Coach for statistics and quantitative design in the ASC. I am a retired Associate Professor and the Joan D. & Alexander S. Haig/BORSF Endowed Professor of Education IV at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. I have a Ph.D. in quantitative research, evaluation, and measurement in education from The Ohio State University, and master’s degrees in research and evaluation, public policy, and health services administration. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work from Capital University. Since my retirement in 2016, I have continued working with doctoral students on their dissertations and teach applied statistics at Columbus State Community College. I enjoy coaching students on inferential statistics and quantitative research design. When I am not working, I am either playing my guitar or adding to my collection (buying, selling, trading, etc.) that I've been accumulating since the age of 12. My favorite book of all time is Needs Assessment: Analysis and Prioritization by Altschuld and White (Sage Pubs, 2010).

Academic Coach - Writing

Jomo MerrittDr. Jomo Merritt 

My name is Dr. Jomo Merritt, and I serve as an Academic Coach for writing in the ASC. I earned my doctoral degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Oakland City University in 2020. I have a specialist degree in Counseling/Psychology with a concentration in mental health practices in schools, a master’s degree in school counseling from Albany State University, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Georgia. I am an experienced counselor and curriculum developer with a demonstrated history working with grades K-12 and adult learner curriculum. I am also a part-time journalist for the online newspaper Guardian Liberty Voice. I love coaching students on clarity in writing, organization, and scholarly writing. In my spare time, I like to write screenplays and am in the process of working on my second novel.

Academic Coach - ASC Chat

Justin GeigerJustin Geiger

My name is Justin Geiger, and I hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, both from Liberty University. I'm currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Community Counseling and Psychology, also from Liberty. I am currently in the dissertation process and expect to finish in the coming months. I have a passion to see students succeed, and I believe that Socratic dialogue is the best way to learn. I believe that anyone can learn and develop a growth mindset, no matter what background someone comes from. Everyone has a different learning style and requires different levels of assistance at different times in their lives, so the role of the educator is to meet the student where they currently are. Some of my hobbies include hiking mountain trails, reviewing fiction books, and critiquing entertainment. My all-time favorite TV series is The Chosen.

Academic Coach-Proofreader

Dr. Mathew Neil

Matthew NeilMy name is Dr. Matthew Neil, and I am a Proofreading Specialist in the ASC. I have been a consultant of academic writing in various institutional settings for over 7 years, specializing in doctorate support. I earned my Bachelor of Music in jazz studies from Temple University, and then my PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Riverside, where I wrote my qualitative research dissertation on the impact of higher education and non-profit institutions on the jazz scene in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. I have also written about retro sound chip technology and nostalgia in video game music, the life and works of film composer John Williams, and other topics. When not working with writing, I like to spend my time playing piano, (re)designing my island in Animal Crossing, or watching NBA basketball (go Nets!).

Academic Coach - ASC Chat

Rachel BruhnRachel Bruhn

Hello!  My name is Rachel Bruhn, and I am an Academic Coach in the Academic Success Center.  I specialize in helping students build their skills in statistical competencies.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminology from Butler University and a master’s degree in Psychology from Kaplan University.  Since obtaining my master’s degree I bounced around the behavioral health field for a few years before changing tracks and finding a home in education.  As a coach, I enjoy working with students on building confidence with statistics basics and moving into more advanced inferential stats.  Outside the ASC, I am a stay-at-home mom of two, and (when I manage to sneak some “me time”) I enjoy reading, scrapbooking/crafting, singing, and dancing.

Academic Coach - Writing

Sara NorthernDr. Sara Northern

 I am Dr. Sara Northern, and as a certified teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience from elementary to graduate course appointments, my foremost commitment is advocating educational excellence by empowering students to become self-directed learners. I have a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master’s of Teaching in Educational Technology, and a Doctorate of Education in Teacher Leadership. I joined the Northcentral University Community as an Academic Writing Coach in the Academic Success Center at its launch in 2014. In October 2019, I became the Academic Success Center Coordinator, where I have the privilege of assisting our Associate Director Ramon Daines and supporting our awesome coaches. I have Malcolm Baldridge Excellence Training and also attended the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), where I now have the privilege to serve as NCU’s strategic planning thematic lead for Institutional Support.  Working in the Academic Success Center is rewarding because we pride ourselves on supporting students’ unique needs. During my free time, I enjoy traveling abroad (especially throughout Central and South America) with my husband and cat. I also enjoy reading about new educational trends.

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