Student Success Leaders

Note: We are currently updating the information for the upcoming fall term. Below is the information from fall of 2018. Please check back later for the current year’s descriptions.


Each first-year seminar has an upper-class student mentor called a student success leader, or SSL, who attends your seminar, helps you with advising, and answers academic questions. Once you have been assigned your seminar over the summer, your SSL will get in touch with you to discuss how to build your schedule for the fall and to answer any questions you have about academics at Hollins.

Hello, class of 2022! My name is Mariah Abshire, and I’m stoked to welcome you to the Hollins community. I’m a rising junior, double majoring in English and communication studies. As a native Floridian, finding a home in the Blue Ridge was particularly special. Hollins’ mountainous backdrop is easily one of my favorite parts of campus. After a semester abroad in London, I return to campus to continue my work as a Writing Center tutor and a doula-in-training. I also work on the editorial board for an on-campus, multicultural magazine, Gravel. When spare time arises, you can catch me reading, thrifting, or hiking! Leading up to my college move-in day, I couldn’t count all of the questions cluttering my thoughts. If you feel similarly, please don’t hesitate to email me at! No question is too small. My role as your Student Success Leader is to provide any advice you might need. When I can’t provide the best information, I’ll direct you to someone who can. Formal responsibilities aside, I am so excited to get to know you all! Professor Bratic’s first-year seminar is an endeavor I am looking forward to this fall.

Photo of McKenna Baker

Hello! My name is McKenna Baker, and I am the SSL for Professor Diaz’s first-year seminar. I’m originally from Phoenix, Arizona, so it took a while to get used to the Roanoke weather. I’m a senior double majoring in philosophy and Spanish, and I recently returned from a semester abroad in Seville, Spain. This summer, I will be studying for the LSAT and preparing to go to law school. I live in the Spanish House, a specialty dorm dedicated to promoting Hispanic culture, and I spend most of my time in the library studying and working as a Writing Center tutor. I love making schedules and reading—anything from Faulkner to video game handbooks. If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at! I can’t wait to meet all of you!

Hello, class of 2022! My name is Grishma Bhattarai, and I am thrilled to welcome you to Hollins! I am a rising junior, working toward a double major in economics and mathematics, and I will be the SSL for Professor Hernandez’s Incompatibles? first-year seminar. I am an international student from Kathmandu, Nepal, but the mountains around Roanoke have definitely welcomed me with open arms. At Hollins, I am usually the small figure running around campus or cracking jokes with my friends. If I’m not seen hustling from classes to meetings, I am usually hoarding books at our beautiful library or taking a nap (understatement). I love reading/writing poetry and cooking, and will usually be seen ranting about the importance of spicy food in my life. Just recently, I completed the Jamaica Cultural Immersion Program and the Hollins Honors Seminar. I am also working toward my Batten Leadership certificate. This academic year, I will be working as the Academic Policy Board Chair and (hopefully) studying abroad in Italy during the spring semester. I also work on campus as a tutor in the Writing Center, so you can bring papers you need help with anytime or just come in to say hi! I would love to talk to you about any of these programs and my experiences with them. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you just want to reach out and say hi, you can email me at, or message me on Facebook without any hesitation. I cannot wait to meet you all. Welcome to Hollins!

Photo of Aysia Brenner

Hello all! My name is Aysia Brenner, and I’ll be the SSL for Professor Hendrick’s class on 20th century women architects. I’m class of 2021, double majoring in history and art history, and I’m from a small town in Washington State. In preparation for studying abroad in Paris my junior year, I’ll be staying in French House, a specialty house here at Hollins dedicated to practicing the French language and gaining a deeper appreciation for French culture. In my free time, you can often find me camped out in the library reading anything from the fluffiest YA romance to Stephen King to books about early U.S. history. If I’m not in the library, there’s a good chance I’m hanging out in Moody with my friends and laughing way too loud or holed up in my dorm binge-watching Star Trek, Criminal Minds, or Turn. I can’t wait to meet you all this fall and welcome you to Hollins! You’re going to love it here! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Photo of Liza Davis

Hey all! My name is Liza Davis, and I am from Midlothian, Virginia. I am a rising senior here at Hollins, and I am a double major in French and communication studies. On campus, I’ve been a part of the riding team and HAB on the Formal Events Committee. More recently, I have been abroad in Paris for my junior year! I’ve been loving every second, but it’s been hard to be away from campus for this long, so I am excited to come back in the fall and help welcome our new students! I actually was in Consuming French Culture as a first year, and then my sophomore year I was the SSL—so I am happy to answer any questions that you might have! I am so happy to be working with Professor Sampon-Nicolas—she is one of the most passionate professors at Hollins, and she makes this FYS one of the best. Please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or email ( Have a great summer, and I’ll see you in the fall!

What’s up guys?! I’m E’Vaan Duncan, and I’ll be your SSL for Professor Anderson’s first-year seminar this fall. I am a rising junior, with a major in English (with a concentration in U.S multicultural literature and creative writing) and a minor in Spanish. I’m from Prince George’s County, Maryland, a wonderfully diverse and creative environment to grow up in. I am currently Performance Arts Committee Chair on Hollins Activity Board. I love music, writing, fashion, and event planning. In my free time, I’m probably dancing in my room, singing, making music, or taking a nap. Coming to Hollins was a very random and spontaneous decision for me, and I had no idea what I was in for. What I needed most was someone I could go to for all of my seemingly silly questions, someone who had been in my position before. As your SSL, I am so excited to try my very best to fill this role for you! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have about Hollins, college in general, or anything fashion at

Photo of Lilly Eilers

Welcome class of 2022! My name is Lilly Eilers. I am a rising junior and a history and classical studies double major! I will be Professor Leedom’s SSL for the King Death seminar. I am from Charleston, SC. I love the beach, but have an enormous love for the mountains! Hollins is definitely a beautiful place to go to school! I love history and classics, but also have a deep appreciation for music. I play percussion in the Valley Chamber Orchestra and with the World Music Ensemble. I, also, am a member of the Outdoor Athletes as a rock climber! You can almost always find me with a cup of tea and my friends anywhere on campus. I am so excited to welcome you to Hollins and the history department! Don’t be afraid to reach out to me at if you have any questions! See you in the fall!

Photo of Maya Flores

Hello future Hollins students! My name is Maya Flores, and I am so very excited to be a SSL for the first-year seminar bell hooks: rage, love, and creating beloved community with Professor Costa this fall semester! I am a rising sophomore and a projected history major. I’m currently involved with the Students Studying Slavery club here at Hollins and plan to continue that next semester. My favorite thing to do on campus is read on a nice day on the chapel lawn, but when it’s chilly outside, you can probably find me in the library studying. You’ll also probably find me riding my razor scooter around campus on my way to class. I love going skating and shopping with my friends on the weekends and just going on fun adventures with them. I’m so excited to welcome you all to campus this fall. I know going to college can be a little scary, though, so if you have ANY questions or need to talk about anything, please feel free to contact me at Once you get here, I’ll try my best to share with you all my favorite parts of being at Hollins and make the transition as easy as possible. See you in August!

Photo of Katie Grandelli

Hello, class of 2022! My name is Katie Grandelli, and I am a rising junior. I am an international studies major, along with minors in both history and economics. This fall, I will be serving as Professor Coogan’s SSL for the History Rocks! seminar. I’m from the farmland area of Northern Virginia, also known as the stop-sign town of Goldvein. I have always loved history and music, so getting to serve as the SSL for this seminar is a wonderful intersection of two fascinating topics. Here at Hollins, I am a member of our Model UN/Model Arab League program, where I have had the privilege to represent Japan, Argentina, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates at conferences. I am also a member of the riding team. I’m a big fan of tea, Netflix shows about the British royal family, epic musicals about revolution, the politics of the Middle East, and trains. I cannot wait to welcome you to Hollins and especially to the history department! Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions, and I will see you all very soon!

Photo of Abby Hall

Hi there! I’m Abby Hall, a rising senior majoring in English. I come from a small town called Point Pleasant in wild and wonderful West Virginia, and if you’ve heard that name before, it’s probably because that’s where the Mothman lives. This fall, I will be the lucky SSL for Professor Larsen’s first-year seminar, and, having had Professor Larsen for my own first-year seminar, I’m so excited for the students in that class. Be prepared for wild story adventures and a little bit of an existential crisis. In my spare time, you might find me giving free amateur haircuts, sitting alone outside under some trees, sleeping in the middle of the day, or reading. I can’t wait for all of you to grow, learn, change, and make memories here at Hollins, with me and with each other! If you have questions or anything, you can reach me at I’m looking forward to meeting you guys, and I hope you all have a great first year!

Photo of Lindsey Grubb

Welcome class of 2022! My name is Lindsey Grubb, and I will be your SSL for Professor Bohland’s Collective Memory: Remembering and Forgetting seminar. I look forward to meeting and working with each of you this fall. I am a rising senior at Hollins, and I am majoring in interdisciplinary studies-social studies and English and minoring in mathematics. I am also a part of the education department, and I plan on becoming an elementary teacher. Outside of school work, I like to travel and spend time with my family and friends. As a Roanoke native, I can share with you my favorite activities to do in the area. Enjoy your summer break, and if you have any questions, feel free to email me at!

Photo of Rachel Jackson

Hello, class of 2022! My name is Rachel Jackson, and I am Professor Printz’s SSL for fall 2018. I am a rising senior and studio art major at Hollins, and I also attended Hollinsummer way back in 2013. As a senior next year, I will be diligently working on my thesis. Currently, I’m having an amazing and inspiring times studying abroad in Osaka, Japan. Back on campus, you can usually find me in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center either working on a project or hanging out with my friends. Outside of academic life, I love scrapbooking, the ocean, playing video games, my cat, and going to art exhibits. If you have any questions for me, don’t be afraid to reach out! My email is I hope you all have a wonderful summer, and we’re gonna have a great year together!

Photo of Zoey James

Hello, class of 2022! My name is Zoey (with a Y) James, a rising sophomore doing a double major in classics and English with a concentration in creative writing, and I’m your SSL for Professor De Groot’s Seminar Imaginary Cities from Plato to Pratchett! I can’t wait to meet all of you, and I’m super excited to be helping you out during your first semester of college, especially in a class as wild and fun as this one! A bit about me: I’m a huge nerd. I love anything to do with fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction as a whole, as well as ancient mythology. I enjoy hanging out with my group of nerds, bopping to Hayley Kiyoko, exploring the Hollins campus, making mood boards, and binge watching Netflix. Hollins offers quite a few opportunities, both academically and socially, but don’t worry, you won’t have to navigate it alone. Enjoy your summer, guys, and if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk, you can email me at or message me on Facebook. See you soon Hollie Collies!

Shannen Kelly

Hello 2022! My name is Shannen Kelly, and I will be Professor Ridley’s SSL for The Passion for Power and the Power for Passion. Come this fall, I will be a senior double majoring in environmental science and Spanish. I spent this past spring in Granada, Spain, studying Spanish and traveling along the Mediterranean! I’m passionate about hiking, making obscure Vine references, and promoting small acts of self-care. If you ever need to find me, I’ll either be sitting in the upstairs Dana lobby or in the Center for Learning Excellence where I work as a writing tutor. Feel free to reach out to me at if you have any questions.