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Meet the Staff

The UCC is a united and compassionate team dedicated to social justice, equity, and inclusion. Our doors are open to serve and affirm students of color and students with minoritized identities. Every UCC staff member takes pride in providing a validating and safe space for all of our students who may experience discrimination, prejudice, or violence as a result of white supremacy and additional systems of oppression. Our UCC providers engage in regular staff-wide trainings, educational opportunities, personal introspection, and professional development to increase our cultural humility and advocacy on behalf of the Vanderbilt student community. We are here for you. We welcome you. You are valued.

 

Staff

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Julia Acker, BSN, RN

Registered Nurse
Pronouns: she/her/hers

I recently heard, “if the conversation is boring, you are probably not listening.” I believe everyone has a story worth telling, and we can count ourselves privileged if we get to listen. It is an honor to be invited into the lives of others. Whether at work, the grocery store, or on a plane ride, it is my hope to see, delight in, and engage with the person in front of me. As a nurse, I believe much of physical health stems from mental health. Here at the UCC, I hope to assist students toward their mental health goals, allowing them to flourish in their studies, social settings, and overall wellness.


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    Brent Alcaraz, LMFT-A

    Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor
    Pronouns: he/him/his

    My goal as a counselor is to create a comfortable environment for students to share their challenging experiences and assist with promoting self-efficacy, building better relationships, and learn about themselves during the process. As a person in long-term recovery, I strive to help students break down the stigma of addiction and provide a space to acknowledge the presence of this disease and establish a greater understanding of a life in recovery or harm reduction. Through a collaborative therapeutic approach, I encourage students to have a voice in their therapy goals and develop an understanding of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors they may struggle with, especially in the areas of addiction and mental health.


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      Aneesa Anderson, M.S., NCC

      Social Justice and Inclusion Counselor
      Pronouns: she/her/hers

      I believe a good counselor is one that can meet their client where they are while providing empathy, genuineness, and a safe space to share their story. My approach to counseling is one that is relational, collaborative, and not only understands but emphasizes how diverse each person is. I work from a relational, cultural, feminist, and existential approach. Together we will help you shift from managing to thriving academically, socially, and emotionally. I am passionate about serving individuals within systemically oppressed groups and first gen folx.


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        Stacey Appiah-Opoku, MA, LPC-MHSP, NCC

        Therapist
        Pronouns: she/her/hers

        I believe we all have parts of our identities that influence how we move through the world and process experiences. As such I believe an important part of therapy involves exploring and affirming all salient parts of your identity. I will support you in sharing your story, identifying your values, experiencing your emotions and building skills to work towards your goals.


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          Marlon Bailey, LCSW

          Athletics Mental Health Provider
          Pronouns: he/him/his

          I approach counseling relationships by partnering with individuals to address the superficial and substantial parts of the obstacles to living and feeling well. This often includes managing the intricacies of identity, environment, hopes, and practical health indicators.


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            Vanessa Bell, Ph.D., HSP

            Psychologist
            Pronouns: she/her/hers

            I support students by providing psychological assessments to better understand various factors that may be adversely impacting their academic, emotional, social, and/or other areas of functioning. Working together, we will collect important pieces of the diagnostic puzzle and  identify the most appropriate diagnoses, treatment recommendations, and supportive resources.


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              Jaya Bhojwani, M.S.Ed

              Doctoral Intern
              Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

              I invite clients to take a step into exploring their experiences and identities and am honored to be a part of that journey. I believe that you are the expert of your life and that sometimes you need a mirror to reflect on what you know about yourself. Given that, I strive to create a warm and genuine space where clients can be wholly themselves without fear of being judged. I want to honor the wisdom you have about yourself and simultaneously hold your desire for change.


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                Heather Boyd, LCSW

                Therapist
                Pronouns: she/her/hers

                I believe life is all about balance. In therapy, that often means balancing change with acceptance. I try to create a safe place where clients can fully explore areas of life they would like to accept and areas of life they would like to change.


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                  Kea Brown, Psy.D.

                  Postdoctoral Fellow
                  Pronouns: she/her/hers

                  Aloha! I am excited to join Vanderbilt as a postdoctoral fellow for the 22-23 academic year! My goal is to create a safe and inclusive environment conducive to navigating stressors and considering realistic, adaptive alternatives. I utilize humanistic and systemic approaches to therapy to collaboratively explore helpful ways to organize different experiences, while empowering students to acknowledge their unique strengths.


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                    Mary Clare Champion, Ph.D., HSP

                    Associate Director for Administration and Clinical Services
                    Pronouns: she/her/hers

                    My goal as a therapist is to meet students from all programs and identities and support them in their time at Vanderbilt, creating a safe space together in which to determine strategies to help navigate stressors and challenges that may have interfered with them succeeding in their academic or personal lives.


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                      Sydnee Collins, Ph.D.

                      Sport Performance Consultant
                      Pronouns: she/her/hers

                      I enter every therapeutic relationship with the intent of connecting from a place of authenticity, empathy, and respect. My goal is to provide a judgment-free, collaborative space that guides clients on their journey to holistic peace and wellness.


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                        Nalini Conner, Ph.D., HSP

                        Psychologist
                        Pronouns: she/her/hers

                        “It’s okay to feel what you feel- it’s what you do with those feelings that is the most important.” I believe that therapy is a space to learn how to better understand your emotions, what may be contributing to them, and how to respond to them. My goal is to provide a safe, collaborative space for all clients where they can learn the individualized tools they need to help them navigate through any difficulties.


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                          Sophie de Jong, B.S.

                          Practicum Trainee
                          Pronouns: she/her/hers

                          My goal is to create a safe, supportive, and collaborative therapeutic space in which students can feel comfortable navigating difficulties, exploring identities, and committing to their values. My counseling approach is trauma-informed, strengths-based, and culturally sensitive.


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                            Tara Duffie, MA, DNP, PMHNP-BC

                            Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
                            Pronouns: she/her/hers

                            I believe that mental health is self-care. My goal is to promote a collaborative environment where we can build a genuine therapeutic partnership. I strive to promote an inclusive, safe space to welcome all students.


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                              Ansley Geno, DNP, PMHNP-BC

                              Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
                              Pronouns: she/her/hers

                              My goal as a psychiatric nurse practitioner is to provide holistic, compassionate, and culturally competent care to diverse populations. Specifically, I aim to work with students to improve their mental health by addressing multidimensional aspects of wellness through development of a trusting therapeutic relationship, thorough assessment, and evidence-based medication management.


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                                Viviana Grice, LPC/MHSP, NCC

                                Therapist
                                Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                I strive to offer students a safe and confidential space where they are invited to a journey of self-exploration and growth. I work in collaboration with my clients toward unveiling and ending the cycle of self-defeating behaviors that have been barriers to reaching their full potential.

                                Fluent in Spanish.


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                                  Sydney Holofcener, LMSW

                                  Eating Disorder Counselor
                                  Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                  In life, everyone needs someone to sit with them, to listen and provide support while navigating life’s heaviness—therapy can be that place. I am committed to offering a compassionate and affirming therapeutic space that honors you as you are—in your wholeness, in your pain, in your joy. Through warmth, creativity, and skill-building I aim to empower my clients by reconnecting them to their innate resilience and mind/body wisdom.


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                                    Ruth Howard, Ph.D., HSP

                                    Licensed Psychologist/Outreach Coordinator
                                    Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

                                    I am humbled by the strength and resilience that students exhibit every day, and it is a privilege to work alongside them at the UCC. As a Latinx therapy provider who immigrated to the US as a child from Venezuela, I find it both personally and professionally rewarding to be rooted in liberation psychology, exploring the impact of sociocultural systems of privilege and oppression and working towards deconstructing deeply rooted systems of inequity. Although this is often an imperfect process for me, I strive to work collaboratively with students to co-create a warm, affirming, and validating space for growth and healing to take place.

                                    Speaks conversational Spanish.


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                                      Matthew L. Kane, M.S/MFT

                                      Doctoral Intern
                                      Pronouns: he/him/his

                                      I place compassion at the core of my work. It is my belief that there are no wrong feelings, and my hope is to work with you to build a safe space in which we can sit in the discovery of our authentic selves and be able to walk alongside each other toward your goals. Additionally, I find social justice to be an inescapably interwoven piece of our work as therapists. Because of this, I practice acknowledging the presence and impact of various systems in your life, while mindfully listening to what you believe can be helpful in your journey towards liberation.


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                                        Elizabeth King

                                        Administrative Assistant
                                        Pronouns: she/her/hers


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                                          Hannah Lavoie, LCSW

                                          Clinical Case Manager
                                          Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                          My goal is to meet students where they are while providing a space of kindness and understanding. It is my goal to support students in navigating their emotional and mental health needs and ensuring those needs are being met.


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                                            Kriste Meyer

                                            Administrative Manager
                                            Pronouns: she/her/hers


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                                              Amira Mohamad, LPC-MHSP

                                              Therapist
                                              Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                              It’s a privilege to be asked to enter the most vulnerable spaces with clients. As a Kurdish-American who resettled in the U.S. as a refugee, I prioritize recognizing the intersectional identities of each client in order to create a safe space where they can exist authentically. My hope is to continue playing a role in improving access to mental health services in the minority communities. I aim for a curiosity-oriented approach with my clients to help develop skills of self-observation and exploration.


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                                                Martez Nelson, LPC-MHSP

                                                Social Justice & Inclusion Counselor
                                                Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                My goal is to provide you with a safe, welcoming, and empathic space to navigate your challenges and goals. I work from a strengths-based approach, and we will use this approach to help you find new ways of managing your academic, social, and emotional needs. I am passionate about serving individuals within the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups including, black and brown folx inclusive of all gender identities.


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                                                  Frances Niarhos, Ph.D., HSP

                                                  Associate Director for Training
                                                  Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                  I enjoy helping young adults identify potential barriers to their academic success using well-established measure of cognitive, academic and mental health functioning. I also have a passion for teaching and mentoring trainees across all mental health disciplines as they prepare for professional roles as psychologists, clinical social workers and professional counselors.


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                                                    Jules Ough

                                                    Practicum Trainee
                                                    Pronouns: they/them/their(s)

                                                    I seek to create an encouraging therapeutic space in which people can safely explore their intersecting identities, interests, and values. Together we can identify your unique needs, challenges, and goals in order to strengthen your self-understanding and move towards personal growth. My approach to counseling is strengths-based, trauma-informed, and culturally sensitive. I am passionate about serving fellow LGBTQ+ people.


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                                                      Wenzhi Pan, M.S.Ed

                                                      Social Justice and Inclusion Counselor
                                                      Pronouns: she/her/她

                                                      Acknowledging how socioeconomic, political, physiological, and other factors impact our college experience, I aim to offer culturally responsive and trauma-informed care to my clients. As a Chinese-born therapy provider who came to U.S. at 18, I recognize the complexities of intersectionality and use an integrated approach drawing from different theories to provide individualized interventions for my clients so they can reconnect with their innate resilience and restart their journey.

                                                      Also provides services in Mandarin. 


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                                                        Melissa Porter, Psy.D, HSP

                                                        Associate Director for Clinical Operations
                                                        Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                        My goal is to provide a space where I can provide support and guidance on working through the various challenges that life brings, where a student can feel heard, validated, and challenged while making decisions that best fit their life.


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                                                          Bhupendra Rajpura, M.D.

                                                          Psychiatrist
                                                          Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                          My approach to your care is to understand you. I want to develop a care plan based on your concerns that is “YOU”-centric and encompasses most recent treatment guidelines within a holistic approach. I like to work with you to achieve optimum outcomes resulting in a healthy body and healthy mind.


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                                                            Kelly Schmitt

                                                            Administrative Assistant
                                                            Pronouns: she/her/hers


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                                                              Elise Scott, M.D.

                                                              Associate Director for Medical and Psychiatry Services
                                                              Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                              I seek to support students through a partnership founded in compassion and mutual respect. My medical background provides me with a strong neuroscience foundation for treating mental illness — one which challenges dualistic views of mind and body. My approach combines open-minded listening, psychotherapy, lifestyle interventions, and medication management to help students gain resilience, discover their personal identity, and work toward authentic, value-driven lives.


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                                                                Ciera Scott, Ph.D., HSP

                                                                Associate Director for Community Engagement
                                                                Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                While honoring your unique identities, I collaborate with clients in exploring how your background may impact your current thought patterns, your self-esteem, your mood, and how you experience your present relationships.


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                                                                  Kyle Shadrick, LCSW

                                                                  Therapist
                                                                  Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                                  Hi there! My name is Kyle Shadrick. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker(LCSW) in the state of Tennessee, and a therapist at the UCC. In addition to individual therapy, I am also currently the co-chair of the UCC’s diversity alliance, and co-facilitator of the Continuum support group. I am passionate about working with trauma and LGBTQIA+ individuals. I am also a Certified Transgender Care Therapist through ITCA.


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                                                                    Tamaki Silver, Psy.D., HSP

                                                                    Psychologist
                                                                    Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                    My goal is to create a space in which students can feel comfortable discussing challenging experiences and relationships, build resilience and learn how to cope, and develop their own individual identity. I hope to make this a collaborative experience, one where we can engage in problem solving and exploration around all aspects of personal and professional development, while also sharing in some laughter.


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                                                                      Stephanie Singer, LPC-MHSP, NCC

                                                                      Therapist
                                                                      Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                      As a therapist, I try to create a welcoming space for you to feel comfortable and safe exploring areas in your life that need support. I believe in the importance of allowing yourself to be vulnerable, working towards life balance, and creating boundaries with yourself and others. I hope to help you navigate these areas through a collaborative and unique approach, catered to your needs. My goal is to help you gain the confidence, skills, and tools to continue this growth.


                                                                        Elon Slutsky

                                                                        Practicum Trainee
                                                                        Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                                        I am a practicum student at the University Counseling Center.  I am in my second year of study as a master’s student in counseling at the Family Institute at Northwestern University.  I believe in working to address the needs of each client in a collaborative and non-judgmental therapy process.


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                                                                          Keysi Spahr

                                                                          Administrative Assistant
                                                                          Pronouns: she/her/hers


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                                                                            Jay Steinberg , PsyD

                                                                            Postdoctoral Fellow
                                                                            Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                                            My primary goal is to help clients overcome hardships by shifting towards more helpful ways of relating to their thoughts, feelings, identities, and to other people. In doing so, I strive to provide a validating environment through a calm, non-judgmental, curious, and collaborative approach.


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                                                                              Natalie Thomas, MSN, PMHNP-BC

                                                                              Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
                                                                              Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                              In my practice I strive to be authentically present to provide a safe, person-centered, and collaborative space for students to explore their unique treatment needs. I welcome all without judgment and will support students utilizing evidence-based care, as they seek to strengthen their mental health and wellness.


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                                                                                Ash Weber, M.A.

                                                                                Therapist
                                                                                Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                                Much of life is about acknowledging what is within or beyond our control, then developing the navigation tools to forge the path ahead. I believe that therapy should be an integrative, collaborative experience uniquely tailored to your identities and goals—as well as a space where you feel empowered to bring your full self to the table. Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or revisiting familiar patterns, I strive to offer a warm partnership conducive to self-discovery, healing, and growth

                                                                                Speaks conversational French. 


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                                                                                  Todd Weinman, Psy.D., HSP

                                                                                  Director
                                                                                  Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                                                  All of us get stuck at different points in our lives and I believe counseling can be an important vehicle for helping us get unstuck and reaching our full potential.  I really enjoy working as a psychologist within a diverse college community and come from a flexible, integrative, collaborative and culturally responsive perspective designed to help you build on your unique strengths and skills as you continue your journey as a student and beyond.


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                                                                                    Sarah Jordan Welch-Moore, LMSW, DSW

                                                                                    Therapist
                                                                                    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

                                                                                    My goal when working with clients is to help them navigate the challenges that come from their experiences of trauma. As a systematic practitioner with a social justice lens, I work with clients to recognize the ways their unique identities are essential in understanding their experiences and relationships, and how these things impact the way they move through the world. I hope to foster autonomy and growth through the therapeutic process. Through a trauma-informed lens, I work to support students in their work towards healing, and realizing their own resilience.


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                                                                                      Zsanett Williams, PMHNP-BC

                                                                                      Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
                                                                                      Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                                      My approach to patient care is founded on developing a deep understanding of patients’ stories to provide a therapeutic environment that is culturally sensitive, inclusive, and celebrates all forms of diversity


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                                                                                        Maya Williams, M.A., Ed.M

                                                                                        Doctoral Intern
                                                                                        Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                                        I appreciate that we all hold unique and diverse intersecting identities, which impact the process of coping and healing. My goal is to foster a collaborative environment that is based on authenticity, autonomy, and client empowerment.


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                                                                                          Courtney Williams, Ph.D., HSP

                                                                                          Licensed Psychologist and Outreach Coordinator
                                                                                          Pronouns: she/her/hers

                                                                                          Hey y’all! I’m Dr. Courtney Williams, a North Carolina native and Georgia Bulldog (Go Dawgs!).  I am a licensed psychologist at the UCC and have worked at Vanderbilt University since 2019.  As the UCC Outreach Co-Coordinator, my deepest passion lies in community healing.  I aim to honor our BIPOC and Indigenous communities’ collectivistic approaches to wellness.  Much of my work at the UCC is anchored in prevention and community engagement via workshops, groups, presentations, trainings, tabling events, and informal conversation.  If you can’t find me at the UCC, I’m somewhere on campus doing outreach.


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                                                                                            Anabella Pavón Wilson, Ph.D., HSP

                                                                                            Psychologist
                                                                                            Pronouns: she/her/ella

                                                                                            I strive to provide an environment in which students can feel welcomed and safe.  I will work with you to address challenges that may come up during your time at Vanderbilt, and/or address what may have impacted you in your past. I will also help you develop strategies to challenge unhelpful thinking patterns and to cope with difficult emotions.

                                                                                            Fluent in Spanish.


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                                                                                              Xi ‘Justin’ Zhang, B.A.

                                                                                              Practicum Trainee
                                                                                              Pronouns: he/him/his

                                                                                              I am a practicum student at the University Counseling Center. I am currently a third-year M.Ed. candidate in Human Development Counseling at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. As an international student from China, I strive to provide culturally-responsive counseling with an emphasis on social justice. I would love to become a fellow traveler as you navigate through systems of privilege and new environments.