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Meet the Staff

The UCC is a united and compassionate team dedicated to social justice, equality, 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.

 

Clinical Staff

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Jillian Balser

Therapist

I believe in the inner wisdom and resiliency that exists within each individual and feel honored to walk beside my clients as they tap into their own inner resources and engage in their unique healing journey. I take a person-centered and integrative approach to care, weaving mindfulness and self-compassion into the fiber of my clinical work. I am committed to social justice and strive to provide care that is culturally responsive and prioritizes safety in the therapeutic relationship.


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    Vanessa Bell, Ph.D., HSP

    Psychologist

    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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      Heather Boyd

      Therapist

      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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        Mary Clare Champion, Ph.D., HSP

        Psychologist

        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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          Nalini Conner, Ph.D., HSP

          Psychologist

          “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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            LaToya Favre, Ph.D.

            Psychologist

            I feel honored to work with Vanderbilt students and to hear the experiences that bring them into therapy.  Students that I work with will most often hear me say “You are the expert of you;” I say this out of my aim to work collaboratively with students and to help them remain empowered during their journey to healing.  I am committed to social justice and inclusivity and invite students to discuss how systemic issues have intersected with their various identities and impacted their wellbeing.


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              Viviana Grice, LPC

              Therapist

              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.


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                Heather Hemmeger, PharmD, MSN, PMHNP-BC

                Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

                My approach to patient care is evidence-based, holistic, and informed only by a genuine understanding of your unique story and lived experience. As a patient advocate, I value your voice and will work collaboratively to develop a treatment plan that best optimizes your overall health, happiness, and mind-body synchronicity.


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                  Michael Hopkins, BSN

                  Registered Psychiatric Nurse


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                    Ruth Howard, Ph.D., HSP

                    Psychologist

                    I strive to provide a warm, affirming, and safe space for students to reflect on their concerns, identities, and experiences with openness and compassion. I believe that trust is built through feeling heard, understood, and valued and that it is through these nurturing connections with others that we develop new ways of understanding ourselves as well as more creative ways of coping with the inherent stressors of life. I am humbled by the strength, resilience, and perseverance of the students at Vanderbilt, and it is a privilege to support them as they work to reach their goals.


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                      Adriana Kipper-Smith, Ph.D., HSP

                      Associate Director for Clinical Services

                      My approach to psychotherapy is integrative and it is an amalgam of my training and experience working as a clinical psychologist in South America and in the U.S. I love having genuine and courageous conversations that spark curiosity and connectedness while helping students develop more resilience and insight into their lives. As a white Latina, cisgender female, I am committed to using my privilege and power to promote equality and justice.


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                        Peg Leonard-Martin, M.Div., LCSW

                        Therapist

                        No matter who you are or where you came from, I will create a safe space for you to tell your story. I will work with you so that can you learn new skills to cope with whatever issue you bring and respectfully explore how to carry your story forward in a way that represents your integrity and authentic self.


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                          Matias Massaro, PMHNP-BC

                          Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

                          My goal is to provide a safe and welcoming environment to build genuine partnerships with patients while working together to determine and address therapeutic objectives. I appreciate and find inspiration in the uniqueness of each patient and aim to honor my patients’ authenticity. I provide evidence-based care and develop treatment plans that will address their mental, physical, and spiritual needs.


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                            Amira Mohamad, LPC-MHSP

                            Therapist

                            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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                              Frances Niarhos, Ph.D., HSP

                              Associate Director for Training

                              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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                                Brian Pollock, DNP, PMHNP-BC

                                Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

                                My goal is to assist students by being authentically present and developing helping-trusting relationships.


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                                  Melissa Porter, Psy.D., HSP

                                  Assistant Director for Clinical Operations

                                  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

                                    My approach to your care is to understand your concerns and help develop a plan of that is “YOU”-centric and encompasses most recent treatment guidelines within a holistic approach. I believe in working with you to achieve outcomes resulting in a healthy body and healthy mind.


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                                      Elise Scott, M.D.

                                      Psychiatrist

                                      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

                                        Assistant Director for Community Engagement

                                        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, LMSW

                                          Therapist

                                          I enjoy assisting people in learning how to better navigate their stressors and difficulties in life by helping them to better understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I also find great value in incorporating elements of mindfulness into therapy. My most forefront passion is working with LGBTQIA+ communities.


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                                            Tamaki Silver, Psy.D.

                                            Psychologist

                                            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, M.Ed.

                                              Therapist

                                              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.


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                                                Ash Weber

                                                Therapist

                                                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 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


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                                                  Todd Weinman, Psy.D., HSP

                                                  Director

                                                  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

                                                    Therapist

                                                    My goal when working with clients is to help them navigate the challenges that come from their experiences of trauma. As a systematic practitioner, I work with clients to recognize the ways their unique identities are essential in understanding their experiences and relationships, and this must be honored in the therapy room. I hope to foster autonomy and growth through the therapeutic process, and believe everyone is deserving of dignity and respect. 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

                                                      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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                                                        Courtney Williams, Ph.D., HSP

                                                        Psychologist

                                                        Consistent with both my professional and personal identity, I find that my relationships are an integral part of my identity. My relationships help me better understand myself, others, and various aspects of my life. In the same way, my clients make sense of the world through their relationships, often finding that the challenges they confront are related to relational variables. In my work with diverse populations, one theme remained consistent-the desire to connect-to others, to feelings, to self. As such, my role as your therapist is to co-facilitate a therapeutic process that fosters that connection.


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                                                          Anabella Pavón Wilson, Ph.D., HSP

                                                          Psychologist

                                                          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.


                                                            Administrative Staff

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                                                            Kay Brown

                                                            Senior Administrative Assistant


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                                                              Kriste Meyer

                                                              Administrative Manager


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                                                                Alexandria Rouff

                                                                Administrative Assistant II


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                                                                  Lynn Wakefield

                                                                  Administrative Assistant II


                                                                    Trainees

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                                                                    Emma Diaz, Ph.D.

                                                                    Postdoctoral Fellow

                                                                    My primary goal is to make sure clients feel heard, respected, and empowered during our sessions. I work with my clients to develop self-compassion and challenge themselves, so that they can meet their goals and develop meaningful connections with others.


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                                                                      Cayla Leung, M.A.

                                                                      Doctoral Intern in Psychology

                                                                      Sometimes life hands us a sour lemon, and we find ourselves in need of someone to listen, validate, and empathize. I strive to build trusting relationships with my clients so that we work together overcome hardships and my clients can live a life worth living. My approach to treatment is to listen and help clients identify skills that can make life less difficult.


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                                                                        Becca Sandhu, Psy.D.

                                                                        Postdoctoral Fellow

                                                                        I work to build a genuine relationship that honors the unique identities of each of my clients in order to provide a safe environment in which they can explore how their background and past experiences may be impacting their current relationships, thought patterns, and view of themselves.


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                                                                          Jay Steinberg

                                                                          Doctoral Intern in Psychology

                                                                          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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                                                                            Zainab Suara

                                                                            Doctoral Intern in Psychology

                                                                            My aim is to make therapy a more comfortable space, which can be a daunting task where an individual is asked to share their vulnerabilities with a complete stranger. Unconditional positive regard, as defined as the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does, is integral to the work I strive to do. This viewpoint is valuable especially for those whose words, actions, and beliefs have been devalued and undermined in the past not only at the individual but systemic level as well.


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                                                                              Katharine Waldron

                                                                              Doctoral Intern in Psychology

                                                                              I view therapy as a collaborative, transparent relationship that encourages insight and a mindful approach to everyday life. I work to create a trusting and safe space in order to assist others in developing more self-compassion and ultimately reaching greater peace and harmony. Importantly, my intent is to provide an open and affirming space for each individual.