Student Success Advisors & Staff
Jarso Jallah Saygbe - Associate Vice President
Ms. Jarso Jallah Saygbe currently serves as Associate Vice President (AVP) for the division of Student Success at Delaware State University. As the AVP, she provides leadership, planning, guidance and directs the implementation of various student success initiatives that fosters inclusive excellence and equitable outcomes for all students, with a strong emphasis on improving retention and graduation outcomes.
Prior to assuming the role of AVP, she served both as Director and Executive Director of Academic Advisement at Delaware State. Ms. Jallah Saygbe career spans nearly 20 years; with 15 years in higher education/student success, and five years in training & development, international development and public service. Ms. Jallah Saygbe graduated from Rhode Island College, and earned a Master of Arts in Counseling, and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Communications. Additionally, she is currently pursuing an EdD in Higher Education Administration.
She is a Liberian; a devout Christian and has two teenage daughters.
Dr. Cassandra Green - Assistant Vice President
Tiffany Alexander - Coordinator of Student Transition
Tiffany Alexander has a passion for retaining and graduating college students, which is illustrated in her work experience and educational background. As the Academic Program Coordinator for the University College, Ms. Alexander empowers students to obtain their educational and personal goals through academic advising and teaching, as well as organizes engaging educational workshops that are designed to enlighten and inspire students to succeed. Ms. Alexander graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and a master’s degree in Higher Education and Counseling.
Email: talexander [at] desu.edu
Dianne Bogle - Retention & Academic Intervention Specialist
Dianne Bogle earned a (BSW) Bachelor of Social Work degree from Delaware State University in 1997 and a MSOL (Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership) from Wilmington University in 2005. Ms. Bogle has more than 20 years of experience working with Youth program management and Leadership Development, is a member of the Dover Human Relations Commission, and has worked with the Capital School district and the Delaware Department of Education and in the area of Parent and Community Engagement. In her current role as Retention Specialist/ Academic Advisor, Ms. Bogle advises First Year Students and coordinates DSUs Summer Bridge Programs Project Success and Jumpstart. Ms. Bogle is passionate about working with students and the community.
Email: dbogle [at] desu.edu
Anna Cortese – Director of Integrated Academic Support Services
Anna Cortese has demonstrated a passion for providing students with academic support in order for them to achieve their goal of college graduation. Throughout nearly 20 years in higher education, Ms. Cortese has coordinated many programs and has taught developmental math courses. Ms. Cortese’s primary role at Delaware State University is to support students with their academic needs by coordinating the Quantitative Reasoning Center (QRC), Tutorial Center, and Supplemental Instruction (SI) program – placing SI leaders in courses that are deemed “historically difficult” and providing tutors for various subjects including math. Ms. Cortese has created the philosophy that SI and tutorial sessions are more than a “quick fix – give me the answer approach”. The approach to sessions is a holistic one – to reinforce concepts learned in class, to develop note-taking/study skills and test-taking strategies, and to work with other students so that study groups are created. Ms. Cortese also believes in helping SI leaders and tutors grow professionally by providing the tools through professional development workshops and training. Ms. Cortese holds a Bachelor of Science from Seton Hall University and a Master of Science from Montclair State University– both in Mathematics Education.
Email: acortese [at] desu.edu
Tamekca Faria-Frisby - Director of Advisement
Tamekca earned her BA in American Studies & African American Studies from Wesleyan University, and her MA in Educational Administration from New York University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Delaware State University. Educating underserved students has been Tamekca’s passion since graduating from college. She believes that education is the key that opens the door to a future of opportunity. Tamekca was a 1995 Teach for America corps member and taught middle school in New York City for ten years. She joined the Delaware State University community in 2006 and worked with the Classic Upward Bound program before becoming an academic advisor in the College of Business. She enjoys playing and watching sports and trying to learn to play the guitar and drums in her spare time.
Advisement Areas: Hospitality & Tourism Management
Email: tfaria [at] desu.edu
Dr. Lee Hawkins - Academic Advisor
Having worked in the corporate arena for over twenty-five years in myriad staff, lower-level management positions and ultimately promoted to Executive Director, I decided to retire and fulfill my life’s dream, to work in higher education.
Prior to coming to Delaware State University, I was an Adjunct Professor in the Business Department at the City University of New York (Medgar Evers College) for nine years and moved on to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania for three years teaching a variety of business courses. In 2012 I transitioned to a position as Academic Advisor at Delaware State University and the experience I gained has been extremely rewarding.
I am an alumnus of St. Augustine’s University where I received a B.A. in Business Administration, an M.B.A. from The Atlanta University and eventually earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Delaware State University.
During the past six years, it has been an honor and privilege to mentor/advise the students in the College of Agriculture/Human Ecology departments. Needless to say, my major objective has always been to serve and assist our students in attaining their goals, selecting courses in order to meet their career objectives and help them to develop strategies to improve their academic performance. With their end goal after leaving Delaware State University, they will become successful and productive model citizens in the world.
Advisement Area: Agriculture, Human Ecology, Food and Nutrition
Email: lhawkins [at] desu.edu
Dr. Ann Knettler – Director of Student Accessibility Services
Ann currently directs the office of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and is the ADA & 504 Compliance Officer at Delaware State University, she also teaches in their Masters of Public Administration Program. As a member of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Ann has served on the Standing Committee for Professional Development and currently represents the Association as a member of the Board of Directors for the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). She is a published researcher who has been in the Disability Services field for over 13 years and is an experienced presenter and educator.
Her passions include student empowerment, education, online accessibility, fostering inclusion and collaboration, the college to career transition for students with disabilities, and promoting a campus culture that embraces disability as another aspect of diversity. Ann received a Masters of Arts in Counseling in Higher Education with an emphasis in Mental Health from the University of Delaware and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership in Higher Education from Delaware State University. Her dissertation focuses on the lived experiences of ableism and able-body privilege by students with disabilities in higher education and the impact that experience has on their receipt of an accessible and equitable educational experience.
Email: aksmith [at] desu.edu
Gloria Knowles - Academic Advisor
Gloria Knowles is a first-year academic advisor to Mass Communications students. She enjoys being committed to guiding and supporting her advisees as they eagerly progress through stages of detaching from their past, adapting to their present, and embracing their future.
Ms. Knowles is an alumna of Delaware State University with an earned dual degree in Business Administration and Marketing. She furthered her education at Wilmington University where she earned her Master’s degree in Business Administration.
Advisement Area: Mass Communications
Email: gknowles [at] desu.edu
Sonya McCray - Writing Studio Coordinator
Sonya McCray is an education enthusiast who inspires students to reach their maximum potential in academics and life. As a College Success Specialist, Mrs. McCray redirects students on academic probation toward greater productivity through collective instruction and one-on-one guidance. She is also an Adjunct English Instructor and an entrepreneur with a B.A. in English from James Madison University and a M.Ed. from Wilmington University.
Email: smccray [at] desu.edu
Janet McCrea - Academic Advisor
Janet McCrea started her journey at Delaware State University as a full-time, non-traditional student in 1997. In 1999 she became a secretary in Hospitality Management. She continued her education as a part-time student and received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration in 2003. She has such a sincere desire to assist other students in pursuing their degrees that she accepted a position in the College of Business Advisement Center as an Academic Advisor in 2003. Her goal is to continue helping students pursue their dreams. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music and has a special interest in event planning and decorating.
Advisement Area: Sports Management (freshmen)
Email: jmccrea [at] desu.edu
Jill McKinney - College Success Specialist
Jill McKinney is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she earned a B.A. in Sociology. She continues to be a loyal Gamecock fan and is an active volunteer with The George Rogers Foundation of the Carolinas, the primary function of which is to raise scholarship funds for first-generation college students that reside in North and South Carolina. Later, Ms. McKinney attended Delaware State University to complete required courses for Mathematics Teacher Certification and subsequently earned a Master of Education in Educational Technology from Wilmington University. A newly retired Delaware Department of Education Liaison, Ms. McKinney has also been an adjunct at DSU for over 8 years. Presently, as a DSU College Success Specialist, Ms. McKinney teaches the course “Learning Strategies for Academic Success” and is eager to mentor and advise students as needed to encourage each one to achieve his or her goals.
Email: jmckinney [at] desu.edu
Brian Passerell - Academic Advisor
Brian Passerell earned his Associate of Science in Business Management from Cuyahoga Community College (Parma, OH), a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Baldwin Wallace University (Berea, OH) and a Master of Arts in Education in Leadership in Higher Education from Baldwin Wallace University (Berea, OH). After spending seven years in retail management, Brian started on a new career path in higher education, looking to share his knowledge and experience with students pursuing careers in the business world. Brian joined Delaware State University in October 2012. In his spare time, Brian enjoys spending time with his family, playing multiple sports and delving into his passion for history.
Advisement Area: Aviation
Email: bpasserell [at] desu.edu
Kevin Noriega - Director of the Opportunity Scholars Program
Kevin Noriega is the Director of the Opportunity Scholars Program. He has had the opportunity to serve the student community at DSU as a Residence Hall Director, Admissions Counselor, and Academic Advisor. He has also had the opportunity and the pleasure to be the advisor for the Residence Hall Association and the Latino Student Association at DSU.
Mr. Noriega was born and raised in Venezuela and came to Delaware State University on a baseball scholarship. He is fluent in both English and Spanish. In addition, Mr. Noriega earned a B.S. in Management with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Finance and Banking, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration. Both degrees were earned at Delaware State University. Mr. Noriega has a passion for helping others in achieving their academic, professional, and personal goals and dreams. As Director of the Opportunity Scholars Program, Mr. Noriega ensures that the Dreamers (undocumented students) are receiving the proper academic, professional, and personal support; in addition to making sure that his students are having a positive and successful college experience and career at DSU.
Email: kenoriega [at] desu.edu
Dr. Marcel Poe - Director of Advisement
Dr. Marcel Poe serves as the Director of Academic Advisement for the College of Agriculture, Science, and Technology (CAST). Marcel has 20 years of experience working with at-risk populations at Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) and Delaware State University. Dr. Poe previously served as the Individualized Development Plan (IDP) Coordinator/Advisor for the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Technology (CMNST). In this role, he collaborated and developed career and academic activities and milestones for students from Freshmen to Senior Year.
While at DTCC, he provided academic, social, and career advisement to First-generation, low income, and disabled students. Dr. Poe also developed a summer bridge program, male retention group, and several workshops and activities focused on student retention. Marcel served on the Diversity Committee, Student Success Committee, and Student Life Committee.
Dr. Poe has a heart and passion for student success.
Advisement Area: Mathematics Natural Sciences and Technology (students with last name beginning with A-G)
Email: mpoe [at] desu.edu
Michelle Rush - Director of Advisement
Michele Rush is a Director of Advising in the Office of Student Success. She enjoys providing programs and workshops to enhance student learning and academic success. She believes academic advising is a collaborative teaching and learning process integral to the education experience as Delaware State University. She is adept at building relationships, providing support, information and resources that allow for student self-discovery and personal growth and is important to student progress to graduation. She has served the university for more than 17 years in the areas of academic advising and university admissions. Mrs. Rush holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Management.
Dr. Cindy Seto-Friel – Academic Support Student Retention Initiatives Coordinator & Academic Advisor
Cindy Seto-Friel has worked in higher education for over 10 years. Her primary role at DSU is to help students on academic probation return to good academic standing. She also teaches courses and advises students at DSU. Dr. Friel earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master’s in Regional and Community Planning from Kansas State University and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Wilmington University.
Advisement Areas: Psychology (Students with the last name starting with A-K)
Email: cfriel [at] desu.edu
Charmaine Whyte - Director of Advisement
Ms. Charmaine A. Whyte serves as the Director of Academic Advising in the Office of Student Success for the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS). Ms. Whyte is very passionate about coordinating and facilitating the successful progression of students to advanced levels of education. She enjoys observing the developmental growth and the academic success of her advisees and proudly encourages and motivates all her students to be successful career-oriented thinkers, not just job seeking individuals.
Ms. Whyte has served the University for more than 16 years in the areas of Assistant Director of Academic Advising, Technology Analyst and University Seminar Instructor for Pre-Education and Pre-Nursing students. Ms. Whyte is a double alumna of Delaware State University.
Ms. Whyte holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Administrative Office Management and Business Administration.
“Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve”
Advisement Areas: Pre-Education - Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle-Level Education and Physical Education
Email: cwhyte [at] desu.edu
Nikita Robins-Thompson - Associate Director of Academic Programming, ASSA
Associate Director of Academic Programming - Academic Services for Student-Athletes
nrobinsthompson [at] desu.edu
Nikita Robins-Thompson has been in the field of education for over twenty years. During this time, she’s assisted students in identifying, preparing, and implementing the tools necessary for academic success. She loves her time with students because it allows her to deposit little pearls of wisdom designed to build character and to provide a critical view of life. During her tenure at DSU, she has worked as a transfer admission counselor, academic advisor and she’s taught freshman seminar.
Nikita holds a bachelor degree in Psychology from North Carolina Central University and a Master Degree in School Counseling from Wilmington University. Her Motto: Let your life be a reflection of your worth…Education is key! Nikita lives in New Castle, Delaware with her husband Jarvis Thompson and son Jayden.
Ahira Smith - Athletic Academic Advisor
Athletic Academic Advisor
aysmith [at] desu.edu
Ahira Y. Smith is currently an academic advisor for student-athletes at Delaware State University. Arriving onto the campus in 2012, she has served as Director of Academic Advising for the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, where she worked with students in various majors in the field, including but not limited to: Food Science, Nutritional Science, and Textile and Apparel Studies. Ms. Smith serves on several different committees involving Academic Advising, Career Services, Communication, Networking, Retention, and Student Success.
Prior to joining the Delaware State University Hornet Family in 2012, Ms. Smith had served as an academic advisor for 5 (Five) years with the Center for Academic Excellence at North Carolina A&T State University for both athletics and undecided/undeclared students.
She received her Bachelor of Sciences in Physical Education (K-12) from The Kentucky State University in 2000 and her Masters of Education in Recreation and Leisure from Bowling Green State University in 2002.
Dr. Carole Kpota-Middleton - Academic Advisor
Dr. Carole Kpota-Middleton is an alumna of Delaware State University with a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. She also holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of Delaware. In 2005, she became a part of the University’s Adjunct team in the Department of English and Foreign Languages. She has also served in the capacity of Adjunct in the Department of Education, Instructor for the Project Success Program and Assistant Director in the Office of Records and Registration. She currently serves as an Academic Advisor within the Office of Student Success. Dr. Carole Kpota-Middleton loves helping students achieve their dreams. She encourages, challenges and motivates each advisee to go above and beyond their set goals to reach for the stars.
Advisement Areas: Criminal Justice, Political Science, History, Sociology
E-mail: ckpota [at] desu.edu
Samuel Jay – Academic Advisor
Samuel Jay is a double alumnus of Rowan University with a Bachelor’s degree in History/Africana Studies in 2014 and a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration in 2016. Samuel joined the advising team at Delaware State University in February 2020. Before working at Delaware State University Samuel has served as an adjunct Professor at Rosemont College, a Trio Student Support Services Advisor at Rutgers University, and an Adult Basic Education Instructor at Rowan College at Burlington County. Samuel has conducted and published research on the obstacles African American male students encounter in Higher Education. Samuel has a very strong passion in working with the First Generation/Low Income student population and is very passionate about helping students achieve their personal and professional goals. In his free time, Samuel enjoys watching the Philadelphia Eagles, 76ers, and New York Yankees.
Advisement Areas: Nursing, Kinesiology, Social Work and Public Health.
E-mail: sjay [at] desu.edu
Dr. Doreen Scott-Baker - Academic Advisor
Dr. Doreen Scott-Baker, Academic Advisor for the Office of Student Success, is a two time graduate of Delaware State University, having received both her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood/Special Education and Master of Arts degree in Education (Curriculum & Instruction.) Dr. Scott-Baker received her Doctor of Education degree in Innovation and Leadership from Wilmington University. Her mission is to empower, motivate, inspire and enrich the lives of young people.
She’s spent two decades serving students in Delaware and Virginia as a teacher and reading specialist. Dr. Scott-Baker is a mentor for Capital School District, youth director at New Hope Pentecostal Church, and has been an adjunct professor at Delaware State University for eleven years.
Dr. Scott-Baker was honored as an education innovator and community leader by the Sister to Sister Foundation, nominated for Kent County Unsung Hero in Education by the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals and is annually sought after to share her innovative strategies for student success at conferences such as the Making a Difference Conference for Educators.
Through teaching, mentoring and advising, Dr. Scott-Baker’s impact on the Dover community and beyond will be felt for many years to come because of the work she does with its youngest residents thanks to the foundation she helps to build.
Dr. Scott-Baker has been married to her soulmate Andre for 21 years and they have two sons, Dorian and Dion.
Advisement Areas: Kinesiology, Pre-Nursing, Public Health, Social Work
Email: dscottbaker [at] desu.edu
Franck Yehiri - Academic Advisor
Mr. Franck Yehiri is an alumnus of Delaware State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry/Health Professions in 2007, and a Master’s degree in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from Rutgers University/UMDNJ (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) in 2011. In 2019, Mr. Yehiri became a part of the University’s Biological Sciences Department team and served in the capacity of Adjunct Faculty in Cell Biology and General Biology courses. Prior to joining Delaware State University, Mr. Yehiri spent 7 years as a teacher, mentor, to High School students at Calvary Christian Academy (CCA). At CCA, Mr. Yehiri was fortunate to learn that the secret to students’ overall success, is found in serving, building trust and instilling confidence in one’s own abilities. In 2020, Mr. Yehiri was entrusted with the position of Academic Advisor in the Office of Student Success (OSS), whose principal mission is to serve, guide and equip the students with the tools to achieve their academic and career goals. Mr. Yehiri intends to continue to be a vessel used to empower, encourage and lead students to the expression of their highest potential. Therein is his passion, his drive, his motivation to be a part of Delaware State University: to inspire those who never dreamed big before and those who have faced adversities, to be impactful to themselves, their community, and to the world.
Advisement Areas: Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, Computer Sciences, Agriculture.
Academic Advisor-CAST TEAM
E-mail: fyehiri [at] desu.edu
Jabree Belcher - Athletic Academic Advisor
Jabree Belcher is currently an academic advisor for student-athletes at Delaware State University. Before his start at Delaware State, he served as the Graduate Assistant for the Office of Leadership Development. In his role, Jabree provided leadership education, and training to all students through academic partnerships, leadership workshops and conferences, Strengths Finder assessments and annual programs such as the Leader Shape Institute.
Jabree also served as an academic mentor for two semesters in the Resnick Academic Support Center working closely with student-athletes. He provided services to at-risk student-athletes that entered the University with low academic standing (low SAT, ACT, or grade point average) and provided advisement to student-athletes that were on academic probation.
Timothy Zinzel - Athletic Academic Advisor
After graduating from Neumann University in 2016
, Tim has spent the past couple of years at various roles at Division I institutions. While earning his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration at the University of Louisville he worked as a student-athlete tutor and academic services Intern. He later began working as a Learning Specialist Intern at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities. Most recently, he was at Northwestern State University of Louisiana where he was an Academic Coordinator overseeing multiple sports as well as serving as the Student-Athlete Tutorial Coordinator. Tim is originally from West Grove, PA and is excited to be back on the east coast. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends and family, watching sports, and just taking time to relax and try new things.
Christina Epps-Chiazor - Academic Certificate Specialist
Christina Epps-Chiazor comes to Delaware State University assigned as one of our academic
advisors for ASSA. Christina has an extensive background in both academic and compliance and will serve as the certification specialist for our unit.
Epps-Chiazor joins the Hornets staff from Coppin State University where she served as the academic and compliance coordinator since 2015. While with the Eagles Epps-Chiazor help to maintain APR scores above the NCAA 930 benchmark and would, in fact, see perfect scores averaged from some teams. Epps-Chiazor, who is a 2016 Olympian and NCAA Top 30 Woman of the Year nominee takes on the model of developing the holistic athlete. Epps-Chiazor would also serve as the Eagles SAAC advisor helping their student-athletes get involved within the community while also helping them to develop essential life skills. Epps-Chiazor is a graduate of Coppin State University. She lives in Maryland with her husband Chukwuemeka Chiazor and their son Christian Chiazor.
Lynae Spratley - Academic Advisor
Lynae Spratley is an Academic Advisor in our College of Agriculture, Science, and Technology (CAST). She has numerous years of counseling experience, helping students realize and achieve their academic goals. Her desire is to empower students to become life-long learners and decision makers. Her objective is to prepare students for a thriving and purposeful life upon graduation from Delaware State University.
Mrs. Spratley holds a B.A. in Psychology from Eastern University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling from Wilmington University. She has volunteered with various organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Also, Mrs. Spratley is very caring and participates in countless hours of community service. She is extremely active in church, where she has served as a youth leader. She now serves on the prayer and woman’s ministry teams. In addition, Mrs. Spratley is a published author.
Her motto: “I believe that all students have the potential to learn and be successful in their pursuits; they just need someone in their corner to help them along the way…I am that someone.”
Symone Merritt - Academic Advisor
Symone earned her Associate of Science in Business Management from Delaware Technical and Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management from Wilmington University, a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems from Delaware State University and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership-Higher Education at Delaware State University. Symone has spent the last six years at Delaware State University in various roles throughout the Finance department but has decided to gain knowledge and experience on the Academia side. Symone believes her educational background makes her a great fit as an Academic Advisor in College of Business as she can relate and advise from both a personal and professional perspective. Symone’s goal is to aide as many students as she can in their journey here at DSU as they become our future!