Student Success Leaders

Note: We are currently updating the information for the upcoming fall term. Below is information from fall of 2015. Please check back later for the current year’s seminar 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!  My name is Erin Bragg, and I’m in the class of 2018.  I’m originally from Richmond, Virginia, and I’m planning on majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, minoring in French, and pursuing the Musical Theater Performance Certificate.  In my free time, I love reading, writing, knitting, and Netflix, as well as taking long walks around campus with friends.  I’m also involved in Hollins Theatre productions.  My favorite superheroes include (but are not limited to) Deadpool, Iron Man, Batman, and Hawkeye.  I’m thrilled to be the SSL for Professor Gettings’ “Philosophy of Superheroes” seminar, and I can’t wait to get to know all of you!  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at  I’d love to hear from you

Caleigh Bravo

Hello class of 2019! My name is Caileigh Bravo, and I am a senior this year. I am the SSL for Professor Diefenderfer, and I am so excited to meet all of you. I am a film major with a minor in math. Along with being an SSL, I am the president of the riding team and the chair of the community service club on campus. If I’m not doing homework or making films for my class, you can find me watching my favorite movies or TV shows. To me, watching movies is more a hobby than just something to do in my spare time. There are so many films to see and directors to learn from as a film major and so little time to do so. If you can’t find me with my eyes on a television, I am most likely riding at the barn. The horses help keep me sane, and it’s one of my favorite ways to spend my time. Anyway, I can’t wait to meet all of you! If you want to ask me any questions about Hollins, or simply want to discuss your favorite film or TV show, I’m all ears. (

Hello and welcome, Horizon Ladies!  My name is Vickie Culpepper, and I am from Roanoke, Virginia.  I have lived in many parts of the country and have to say that the Blue Ridge is one of the most beautiful and unique places I have had the opportunity to call home.  I will be the SSL for Professor Spodark’s first-year seminar for the incoming Horizon students in the 2015-2016 academic year.  I am a senior Horizon English major and avid volunteer for campus and community activities.  I am thrilled for the opportunity to meet everyone in the upcoming fall semester as it will prove to be exciting for all of us.  The opportunities Hollins provides are such wonderful experiences that I am eager to share them with you.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns at, and I look forward to meeting everyone soon

Hello class of 2019! My name is Kendra Davis, and I am in the class of 2018. I am from Northfield, Massachusetts, which is about 11-12 hours away via car. I am pretty far from home, but I have made Hollins my new home. I’ve made so many amazing friends with both the students and the faculty in my short time here, and I have no doubt you all will find just as many friends! I will be the SSL for Professor Wahl-Fouts’ “Girls in Pink Tights: An Exploration of Women on Broadway” seminar class in the fall. Music and theatre have always been a big influence in my life. One might say I was born into it. My mother has a B.A. in music, and my uncle has a B.A. in theatre. They’ve taken me to see a couple of Broadway productions and many off-Broadway productions of both plays and musicals. In my first year at Hollins, I have participated in both theatre and music. I was in the 10-minute plays back in the fall, and I was Jo March in the spring production of Little Women. I’ve performed in student recitals, in choir concerts, as well as a few special functions and luncheons. I am also in Chamber Singers, lead by our own Professor Wahl-Fouts.  I am a McCullough Scholar and plan on continuing with music as well as theatre after Hollins. Maybe I will be teaching, maybe I will try for Broadway and be one of those Girls in Pink Tights, who knows! I hope you all have a great first year at Hollins, and I am looking forward to working with you all.

Hey there, class of 2019! My name is Kayla Deur, and I’m a senior from the tiny town of Norton, Virginia. I am double-majoring in environmental studies and sociology, and I’m pursuing a leadership certificate from the Batten Leadership Institute. During my time at Hollins, I have been very involved with the Hollins Outdoor Program (HOP) and our nationally-ranked downriver racing team. I have also served as president of two clubs and have participated in our wonderful equestrian program. When I have free time, you might find me at the rock-climbing wall on campus, hiking the greenway to Carvins Cove, or reading in the rocking chairs on the picturesque porches of Main. This fall, I will have returned from spending spring 2015 studying abroad in Cambodia and Vietnam and part of the summer studying in Costa Rica. I am thrilled to be the SSL for Professor Sampon-Nicolas’ seminar, “Consuming French Culture,” and I can’t wait to meet you all and help you start your own Hollins journeys!

Emily Dodson

Hello everyone! My name is Emily Dodson, and I am a member of the 2016 class here at Hollins. I am from the small town of Boones Mill, Virginia, which is only about 30 minutes south of campus. My major is psychology, and I am also pursuing a Batten Leadership Certificate and the Outdoor Wilderness Leadership Certificate. On campus, I am involved with the Hollins Outdoor Program (HOP) and Students for Environmental Action (SEA). You may have seen me on your visits to campus in the admission office where I hold a work-study position. When I graduate from Hollins, I plan to attend graduate school and further my education in the field of psychology. While I am off campus and have the time, you can find me doing outdoor activities such as hiking and gardening, reading, or attending musical events. Feel free to contact me by email at any time if you have any questions or concerns at  I am so excited to be Professor Bowers’ SSL for your first-year seminar, and I can’t wait to meet each of you!

Hey Class of 2019! My name is Lauren Earley, and I’ll be Professor Nunez’s SSL. I’m a senior double-major in history and English literature from Winchester, Virginia, and I am pursuing the Batten Leadership Certificate. In my spare time, I enjoy going on trips with the Hollins Outdoor Program, attending campus events, hanging out with friends, reading for fun, and cross-stitching. I love Sci-Fi movies, peanut butter cookies, and John Oliver (the host of Last Week Tonight). After Hollins, I plan on attending law school for education and public interest law. Feel free to email me at with any questions or concerns regarding any of the aforementioned topics, Hollins, or college life in general. See y’all soon!

Hello Class of 2019, and welcome to our beautiful Hollins!  My name is Andrea Guerra, and I will be the SSL for Professor Hernandez’s “Incompatibles? Economics, Nature, and Globalization” seminar. I am originally from Matamoros, Mexico, but now live in the grand state of Texas. I plan to graduate with a major in economics and a double minor in communication and French. I am deeply invested in service, dance, and learning about other cultures. I have just returned from a semester abroad in Paris that reignited my passion travel. If you enjoy foreign movies, ethnic food, or need a Spanish tutor, I am your girl! I am really excited to meet all of you. If any of you have any questions, please let me know! It makes me happy to be useful to you!  I am thrilled for the amazing semester that awaits us!

Hey there! I’m Rachel Harris, the SSL for Professor Forsman’s “Mythbusters” seminar. I’m in the class of 2018 and am from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I plan to double major in film and theatre. My current goal is to film a rom-com on the moon. I’ve been sound designer for several shows at Hollins this year including Almost, Maine and The Adventures of Iris and Walter. When I’m not in the theatre or the VAC, I enjoy watching sitcoms, building air cannons, and trying to get Professor Forsman to let me play with his dog, Watson. Over the summer, while I’m not doing my sound internship in Ithaca, New York, I plan on watching every episode of Mythbusters I can find. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at I can’t wait to meet you all next year !

Hello class of 2019! My name is Madi Hurley, and I am a rising junior from McKinney, Texas. I am a studio art and business double major and a member of the Hollins Honors Program. I am very involved at Hollins through several different positions and clubs. I am the co-captain of the riding team, currently vice-chair of the Hollins Activity Board, and will be the traditions chair next year. I am also in a campus social society known as ADA, a member of Arts Association, and am part of NEFA, which is a specialty house for artists. I love helping with events on campus and designing logos and flyers. When I’m not up at the barn, you can probably find me hanging out with my Hollins sisters, up in the VAC making art, or exploring Virginia! I will be an SSL for Elise Schweitzer’s “Color Theory Seminar” for the fall semester of 2015. I am especially excited for this because I have been working on an extensive color research project in the Honors Program and can’t wait to continue learning about colors! I am so excited to return in the fall and get to know all of you!

Hey there! My name is Emili McPhail, and I’m in the class of 2018. I’m from the small town of Roseboro, NC. I plan to pursue communication studies and international studies, a Batten Leadership Certificate, and I am in the Hollins Honors Program. This past year I served as the First-Year Class President, was part of the Wilderness Orientation Program (WOP), and completed my first internship. I love living in Roanoke because I love to be outside and in the mountains.  I look forward to serving as Professor Richter’s SSL (How to Watch TV). Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions ( Can’t wait to meet you soon!

Hello, class of 2019! My name is Mandy Moore, and I will be the SSL for Professor Pfeiffer’s first-year seminar. I am a senior from Woodstock, Virginia, majoring in English (creative writing/literature in performance) and minoring in French. On campus, I am involved with the Spiritual and Religious Life Association and French club. I am also a tutor at the Writing Center and a resident of French House. I spent last semester studying abroad in France and the UK. My hobbies include pretending I can sing, being an avid fan of everything from Doctor Who to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and doing way too much research on fairy tales. If you want someone to talk to about interactive multimedia storytelling, the Oxford comma, Wales, or any questions you may have about Hollins, please feel free to email me whenever ( I can’t wait to meet y’all!

Hello everyone! My name is Wibecka Oliver, also known as Vee, and I am a rising senior here at Hollins University. I currently live in Stafford, Virginia, but spent many years in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. I am an art history major, and a communications minor with a passion for film and traveling. I have studied abroad twice through Hollins, first in London, England, and the second in Florence, Italy. Additionally, I am a member of the Hollins Outdoor Program (HOP) and a member of the tennis team. I enjoy reading, hiking, Harry Potter (Ravenclaw for the win!), lounging in hammocks, studying art, music, and planning my next adventure. I am excited to be the SSL for Professor Nolan’s first-year seminar this year and look forward to meeting all of you!

Hey there! My name is Pavithra Suresh, and I’m an international studies major and a communication studies and Spanish double minor. I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m passionate about political theory, traveling, service, culture, and Model UN. In my free time, I enjoy researching poststructuralist theory and binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I’m so excited to be the Student Success Leader for Professor Ridley’s seminar “Passion for Power and the Power of Passion”! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at See you soon!

Hey y’all!! My name is Elizabeth K. Trout, and I am a junior political science and communication major. I’m so excited to meet you guys and start off a wonderful year together! I hail from Franklin County, Virginia, which is only an hour south of Roanoke, but Hollins is home. I love springtime and summer when our campus is green and beautiful. I love silly adventures, hide and seek, music, and taking naps. Let me know if you need anything, because I’m here to help!

Hi y’all! My name is Amelia Verkerk, and I am in the class of 2018. I grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and I am planning on double majoring in history and classical studies. I am a member of the Honors Program and work as a tutor for the Writing Center. I am super passionate about Latin and writing in addition to being a huge history buff. Outside of class, I play tennis and enjoy reading, listening to music, as well as playing card games with my friends. At home, I love spending time with my dogs, cats, and chickens. I will be the SSL for Professors Leedom and Franko’s “Rome and Shakespeare” seminar, and I can’t wait to meet you! I loved my first year at Hollins, and I’m sure you will too!

Hey guys! My name is Taylor Walker, and I’m a junior biology major double minoring in chemistry and international studies. I particularly like to study water politics, geography and the ethnobotanical approach to drug discovery. When I’m not doing field or laboratory research, you can probably find me shooting film somewhere on the Appalachian Trail, getting to know the cool organisms we get to share our ecosystem with here in Roanoke. On campus, I’m employed as a writing tutor and involved with Cargoes, Cyborg Griffin, HOP, Academic Policy Board, and WISE. I’m so excited to be the SSL for Professor Bohland’s first-year seminar! If you have any questions, concerns, or last-minute panic attacks, shoot me an email at, and we’ll sort it out together. Can’t wait to see you all in the fall!