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Meet the Peer Career Mentors

Peer Career Mentors (PCMs) serve as an extension of Peabody Career Services and work with students in Community Development & Action, Education Policy, Higher Education Administration, Human Development Counseling, International Education Policy & Management, and Leadership and Organizational Performance.


Benlina Aier

Human Development Counseling

Benlina Aier is a second-year M.Ed. candidate in the Human Development Counseling program. She is on the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track. A native of the Chicagoland area, Benlina received a B.S. in Psychology from DePaul University in 2016. During her time at DePaul, Benlina worked in a variety of professional roles: as a health educator in Chicago Public Schools, engaging with college students in mentorship and advising settings, and being part of several research teams, most recently working with an urban mentorship intervention program to assess the effectiveness of the intervention and assist with curriculum development. Currently, Benlina works with the Fuchs research team at Vanderbilt, where she delivers a math curriculum to elementary school-aged youth. She also provides tutoring services to K-12 students. Upon graduation, she hopes to work with low-income, urban youth in a community setting and provide access to therapeutic services for them.


Christine Anderson

Education Policy

Christine Anderson is a second-year MPP student in the Education Policy program. Originally from Minnesota, Christine graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 and spent the following five years working in both Minnesota and Boston within the international education field. She enjoyed her time working directly with students as an advisor, but it was her interest in the financial accessibility of postsecondary education that drew her to public policy and brought her to Vanderbilt. Christine furthered this interest by interning during summer 2017 with the fiscal policy team at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.


Danielle Bolling

Higher Education Administration

Danielle Bolling is a second-year M.Ed. student in the Higher Education Administration program. Originally from Indianapolis, IN, she graduated from Indiana University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development & Family Studies. During her undergraduate studies, Danielle developed a passion student affairs through her experiences working in the Office of Service Learning, Office of First Year Experience Programs, and Career Services. Danielle currently serves as the Graduate Assistant for Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and as a Graduate Career Coach for the Career Center. Additionally, Danielle has worked as a graduate intern at Belmont University in the Office of Career & Professional Development; completed an ACUHO-I internship with Cornell University in residential education; and is currently a practicum student at Tennessee State University in the Advisement & Student Success Center. Upon completing her Master’s degree, Danielle hopes to work directly with students as an academic and/or career advisor.


Carin Brown

Higher Education Administration

Carin Brown is a second-year M.Ed. student in the Higher Education Administration program. Originally from Niceville, Florida, Carin graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 where she obtained a B.A. in English and Political Science. After a year in AmeriCorps, she attended law school at Cumberland School of Law in Samford University. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Carin practiced law for four years, primarily in business and property litigation in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Currently, Carin serves as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of the Provost at Vanderbilt University. For her summer internship in 2017, Carin worked on a project with a team of students and staff to improve Vanderbilt campus accessibility for everyone. After graduation, Carin hopes to pursue a career in student retention, accessibility, and student affairs.


Margaux Cameron

Education Policy

Margaux Cameron is a second-year M.P.P. candidate in the K-12 education policy track. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, she earned her B.A. in English at Whitman College in Washington (and takes great pride in being her cohort's only Pacific Northwest representative). After college, she spent 6 years in the Bay Area working in content development, strategy, and marketing for academic publishers and ed techs, where she grew interested in the root causes of current educational issues, as well as the true effects of the trends and policies intended to address them. These interests ultimately led her to Vanderbilt, where she's explored the intersections between education and other public policies and how they shape individual outcomes and community psychology. She hopes to pursue a career as a research analyst, which may include Ph.D. candidacy in the near future.


Qican 'Sunny' Cao

International Education Policy and Management

Qican 'Sunny' Cao is a second-year M.Ed. student in the International Education Policy and Management program. Originally from Shenzhen, China, Sunny graduated from Nanjing University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in psychology. During her undergraduate career, she worked as a teaching assistant for autism children and as a data analyst for an online education company. This past summer, Sunny worked for the Tennessee Department of Education as a data analyst, analyzing survey data collected from teacher trainings. She is particularly interested in particularly postsecondary access, cross-culture education and professional development for teachers.


Maria Carter

Originally from Jacksonville, FL, Maria attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication News. Through working in various peer advising roles during her undergraduate experience, Maria found her way into the Higher Education Administration Program at Vanderbilt. In her second year in the HEA program, Maria will continue to work in the Office of Greek Life advising the Interfraternity Council and Dance Marathon, and will work in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a practicum student. She hopes to continue working with students in an advisory role to enhance their college experience and promote success beyond college.

Maria Carter

Doug Comes

International Education Policy and Management

Doug is a second-year International Education Policy and Management candidate. Originally from Chicago, Doug graduated from Winona State University with degrees in Social Science/History: Teaching and Psychology. Before coming to Peabody, Doug worked in non-profit youth work and TRIO Upward Bound in Minneapolis-St Paul. Informed by his professional experiences and a teaching internship outside Paris, France, Doug hopes to pursue a career in education policy, with an emphasis on comparative approaches to improving access and outcomes for students from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds in higher performing education systems.


Cassia Davidson

Human Development Counseling

Cassia's approach to life and counseling is shaped by her exposure to varied cultures while living in Central and South America as a child. After graduating with a bachelor's in Music Business in 2010, she realized that her calling in life lay elsewhere in the human experience. She worked in an in-patient facility where she received the highest award for her care and attention to high acuity clients. Cassia has also worked in extended care where she was responsible for training, managing, and mentoring staff. She currently works as a Recovery Specialist/ Life Coach with a focus on case management and Life Skills development that supports independent living. This past year at Vanderbilt, Cassia led discussion labs in an HOD course with undergraduate students where she taught them boundary setting, conflict resolution, and team development. Her career goals are to develop a private practice and specialize in working with trauma survivors—specifically survivors of sexual violence with a focus on healing trauma as well as fostering self-empowerment.


Kayla DeCant

Community Development and Action

Kayla DeCant is a second-year M.Ed. student in the Community Development and Action program. Most recently from Chicago, IL she still considers Arizona to be her hometown. She graduated from DePaul University where she studied Psychology Human Services, Sociology and Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies. She has a lifelong commitment to social justice, with specific interests in youth development and women's empowerment. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she was employed by the state of Illinois working with first-generation and low-income high school students to help them think about their plans after graduation. She has also worked as a sexual assault educator and advocate in Illinois, North Carolina, and most recently at Project Safe here at Vanderbilt. While at Vanderbilt, Kayla is pursuing a certificate in Women and Gender studies, is the Executive Vice President of PGSA, and runs the youth council and Nashville's Sexual Assault Center. She most enjoys working with youth and hopes to find a job in programming and development after graduation.


René Dillard

Education Policy

O. René Dillard is originally from a small town in Texas but also calls the city of Chicago home. After completing her Bachelor’s in Anthropology/Human Rights at the University of Chicago in 2012, she returned to Texas and eventually transitioned from being a social worker to a second-grade teacher. Overwhelmed and overworked, her experiences as a teacher led her to pursue a Master’s in Education Policy, where she is currently in her second year. This past summer she interned at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce working in their policy theater, and at Centerstone Research Institute working on evaluative methods and mental health programs for youth and young adults. She aspires to evaluate the benefits of full service community school programs and eventually work to expand these institutions across the U.S. She is also interested in empowering teachers to develop and implement small scale innovative techniques in their classrooms.


Nicole Escobedo

Leadership and Organizational Performance

Nicole Escobedo is a second-year M.Ed. candidate at Peabody. She spent her first year working towards a master’s degree in Community Development and Action. After completing the core CDA courses, she decided to shift her focus to an organizational level. She will finish her degree in Leadership and Organizational Performance. Originally from Sacramento, CA., Nicole graduated from California State University, Chico in 2010 with a Bachelors of Arts in Education and an emphasis in mathematics. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, she taught middle school mathematics for five years – two years in Nashville and three years in Sacramento, CA. Nicole is a program evaluation graduate assistant for the Turner Family Center at Owen, as well as a graduate research assistant for the Education and Brain Research Lab at Peabody. This past summer she worked for Sharecare as a consulting intern for the Blue Zones Project®. Upon earning her master’s degree Nicole, will pursue a career in corporate wellness. Aside from school, Nicole loves exploring the world with her husband and spending time outdoors with their dog.


Kathryn Farkas

Higher Education Administration

Kathryn Farkas is a second-year HEA student who was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with her B.A. in Public Administration and Women & Gender Studies in 2015. Before beginning her Master’s program, she worked at an all-girls, arts-based summer camp in eastern Texas as the director of their Leadership Program. She is currently a graduate assistant in the Office of Inclusion Initiatives & Cultural Competence. In the future, she hopes to work at a public institution or community college improving access, campus climate, and social justice efforts.


Stephanie Fine

Education Policy

Stephanie is a second-year M.P.P. Education Policy student. Originally from Houston, Stephanie graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Applied Learning and Development and B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies. She taught second grade math and science in Houston for four years prior to attending Vanderbilt. Stephanie is interested in issues of equity and access within public education. This summer, Stephanie interned with the Texas Education Agency in the Educator Leadership and Quality and College, Career, and Military Preparation departments. She currently works as a graduate research assistant in Dr. Rittle-Johnson’s lab focusing on improved algebra instruction. Stephanie plans to work in state policy in areas of improving students’ access to high-quality mathematics curriculum and teacher quality after graduation.


Devin Flake

Leadership and Organizational Performance

Devin Flake grew up on a cattle ranch in a small town in Arizona. After serving a 2-year mission in Brazil for his church, he attended Brigham Young University, where he got a bachelor's degree in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources from the Marriot School of Business. While at BYU, Devin had the chance to perform with the school-sponsored Acapella group, Vocal Point, for 3 years. He chose to attend the LOP program here at Peabody because of his interest in talent management, especially in the corporate world. Devin and his wife Heather have been married for 3 years, and they are expecting their first child (a girl!) in October.


Micah Francen

Leadership and Organizational Performance

Micah Francen is from Ashland City, TN. She attended Lee University where she studied Psychology and Music. During her time at Lee, she was heavily involved in student leadership and development where he passion for leadership was born. After graduating in May 2016, Micah came to Peabody to pursue a degree in Leadership and Organizational Performance. Micah aspires to work in change management and organizational development but in general has a heart for helping people and organizations in times of transition.


Katy Hurst

Human Development Counseling

Katy Hurst earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Roanoke College in 2013. She is now earning her master’s in Human Development Counseling as part of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she spent nearly two years living in Antigua, Guatemala where she worked in admissions and development at the newly established Antigua International School, a college preparatory K-12 school that serves over 200 students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. Through her multiple roles at AIS, Katy was able to combine her passions for education, international culture, human development, and resource management. While at Vanderbilt, she has worked as part of the well-known Fuchs’ research team within the department of Special Education and with the Peabody Research Institute on a meta-analysis concerning prosocial behavior development in children and adolescents.


Katie Kozicki

Education Policy

Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin (Go Packers!), Katie attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. After working as a peer advisor throughout her undergrad experience, Katie continued into an advising role through AmeriCorps working with low income college students in Minneapolis. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Katie worked as a college success counselor for a non-profit organization in Brooklyn, New York. As a second-year student in the M.P.P. program, Katie is focused on engaging with issues within higher education policy.


Kenric Lull

Leadership and Organizational Performance

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Kenric graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point (New York) with a B.S. in Environmental Science in 2010. While at West Point, Kenric was a 4-year collegiate athlete, and letterman for the football team. Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Kenric served over 7 years in the United States Army as an officer in the field artillery. In 2015, Kenric deployed to the Middle East in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve. Ready for a career change, Kenric transitioned off active duty to attend Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2016. While he currently continues to serve in the United States Army Reserves, Kenric is excited about the prospects of a career in either operations or consulting. He is also excited about pursing employment opportunities in sports administration. This past summer, Kenric worked as an operations and scouting assistant for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. Additionally, he has recently worked for the Vanderbilt University football program, assisting in operations and player development. Kenric has a variety of interests to include reading, hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, and is an avid fan of the Denver Broncos.


Cathy Marques

Higher Education Administration

Cathy Marques is a second year M.Ed. candidate in the Higher Education Administration program at Peabody. Originally from New Jersey, Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Spanish from Davidson College in 2011. After college, Cathy spent several years working in the legal sector in Washington, D.C. before going on to serve as a college advisor in rural North Carolina. It was during her time as a college advisor that Cathy deepened her interest in higher education, particularly surrounding issues of college access and student success. She currently works as the graduate assistant for the Office of Transition Programs on campus but one day hopes to become a Dean of Students at a small liberal arts institution. When she is not thinking about higher education, Cathy enjoys exploring Nashville with friends and traveling every chance she gets.


Taylor Matherly

International Education Policy and Management

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Taylor grew up around the Triangle area of NC and the mountains of Virginia. At the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Taylor double majored in Linguistics and Sociology, owing to her continued interest in socio-linguistics. After graduating in 2013, she moved to Spain where she spent two years teaching English and Science to elementary, middle and high school students in Galicia and Madrid. She is now a second-year dual degree candidate in International Education Policy & Management (IEPM) and Public Health (with a focus in Global Health).


Allie Mickels

Community Development and Action.

Allie Mikels first attended Vanderbilt for her undergraduate degree in Public Policy Studies and Economics. Upon graduation, she began her career in workforce development for the formerly incarcerated; and has since led and participated in several program development initiatives. Allie is now back at Vanderbilt as a student in the Community Development and Action program, while continuing her full-time employment. Her area of focus while she's here is understanding how those leaving incarceration can have a successful return to society, with a specific focus on the search for permanent housing. Allie plans to use what she learns at Peabody in a career of program evaluation and/or nonprofit management.


Dan Moranville

Community Development and Action

Dan Moranville grew up in Detroit, MI, and has been in Nashville for 11 years. He married Aimee in October, 2012. Dan graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Justice, concentrating in Nonprofit Leadership. Dan has been a leader in nonprofit programming across size and scope: from adult education programming at The Salvation Army, to youth creative media programming at Rocketown. He is a second-year Community Development and Action student and is focusing on research that improves youth development initiatives. He hopes to earn a PhD and teach at the college level. Dan likes to win trivia with his cohort, play music, and watch the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Steelers. He is always up for long, enthralling conversations about politics, society, and theology.


Suzanne Quon

International Education Policy and Management

Suzanne Quon is a second-year M.Ed. student in the International Education Policy and Management. Originally from San Francisco, Suzanne graduated with a B.A. in Chinese Studies and went to Taiwan to teach English shortly afterwards. This past summer, she worked as a Research Intern for the UCLA Equity and Access Studies in Education (EASE) team. Her work specifically dealt with easing the transition between middle and high school for disadvantaged and underserved youth in California. Upon graduation, she hopes to return to California to work on K-12 education policy.


Jenna Rush

Education Policy

Originally from Western Massachusetts, Jenna Rush is a graduate of Gettysburg College where she received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Currently, she is a second-year M.P.P candidate in K-12 education policy. Jenna serves as a Graduate Assistant at the National Center on Scaling up Effective Schools. She also works as a data analyst at Communities in Schools Tennessee, an organization dedicated to surrounding students with a community of support in order to decrease dropout rates, increase on-time graduation rates, and ensure students are prepared to achieve in life.


Allison Thompson

Leadership and Organizational Performance

Allison (Allie) Thompson is a second-year M.Ed. student in the Leadership and Organizational Performance program. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 2011 with a BBA in Business Management and a BA in French. Allie’s career started after completing a year-of-service through the Episcopal Service Corps in Cleveland, Ohio, when she joined the Bishop’s staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. Allie currently serves as the graduate assistant for Peabody Career Services. Over the summer, she worked with the Change Management and Training Team on the SkyVU project. Allie is from the San Francisco East Bay.


Anna Warren

Community Development and Action

Anna is from Memphis, TN and graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Educational Psychology. After spending a year in Birmingham as part of the Fellows Initiative, she returned to Tennessee to work on her Master’s in Community Development & Action. As someone who is passionate about culture and poverty-alleviation, she plans to pursue a career in international development.


Kelsey Wonderlin

Human Development Counseling

Kelsey Wonderlin is a third-year M.Ed. candidate in Vanderbilt's Human Development Counseling program, with a focus in Clinical Mental Health. Originally from the Florida Keys, Kelsey graduated in 2015 from University of Florida with a bachelor of science in psychology and a minor in communication studies. Kelsey currently works as a research assistant in the Education and Brain Sciences Lab at Vanderbilt. She ultimately hopes to open a private practice offering counseling services to young adults and adults, particularly women.