Meet Our Staff
Patricia A. Maher, Ph. D., Director
Dr. Maher has been the Director of the Academic Success Center since 2003. She holds a Ph.D. in Adult Education with a minor in educational research. Her career in education has spanned over 30 years and has included classroom teaching, educational consulting, school administration, research, and university instruction. The common theme throughout her professional practice and research has continuously revolved around enhancing the teaching/learning process through a better understanding of human learning.
Zoraya Betancourt, Assistant Director
Zoraya Betancourt joined the Academic Success Center in 2009 and has been working at the University of South Florida for over 11 years. Her professional experiences include working closely with on-campus student employees, working as an academic advisor, managing the First-Year Experience program at USF, and teaching a first-year seminar course as well as a Learning Strategies course at the university. Zoraya is a doctoral candidate in the Adult Education program at USF and holds a B.A. in Psychology and has an M.Ed. in College Student Affairs. Her research interests include on-campus student employment, student development and academic success, cultural sensitivity and diversity issues, and education abroad.
Mark Newton, Academic Services Administrator
Mark has been working for the Academic Success Center since 2012, starting as a graduate assistant in the Chemistry Center. In his current position, Mark is responsible for implementing CRLA tutor training, teaching Strategic Learning, and academic coaching. Mark has earned a B.S. in Elementary Education, a M.Ed. in Earth Sciences and has 13 years teaching experience at the secondary and college levels. Currently, Mark is a Ph.D. student in Science Education with a research interest in the relationship between socioscientific issues, environmental education, and citizenship.
Sue RiCharde, Academic Support Coordinator
Sue RiCharde joined the Academic Success Center in 2015. In her role as Academic Support Coordinator, she is responsible for the management of approximately 20-25 student workers who run the ASC’s front desks in the Writing Studio, the SMART Lab, and the Tutoring Center. She has been working at USF since 2009, and is currently pursuing an M.Ed. in Instructional Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and traveling with her husband, and staying in close touch with their grown children.
Ana T. Torres-Ayala, Assistant Director
Ana joined the Academic Success Center in 2012 as manager for the SMART lab. Ana obtained a Ph.D. degree in Higher Education/College Teaching from USF and holds both a B.S. and M.Eng. in Computer Engineering. In other past roles, Ana worked as an engineer in the telecommunications industry, taught information technology courses, researched statewide education policies, and supported a faculty development program. Her research interests include engineering education, faculty development, scholarship of teaching and learning, and underrepresented student success in STEM disciplines.
Casey Williams, Academic Services Administrator
Casey joined the Academic Success Center in 2014. She has a B.S. in Mathematics Education and an M.S. in Mathematical Sciences. She has over eight years of mathematics teaching and tutoring experience, including experience with supervising a Math lab. Casey assists with the management and daily operations of the SMART Lab. She is responsible for STEM Tutor prep and training, staff supervision, and she also participates in lab research projects and data analysis for the center. In her spare time, Casey enjoys movies, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Sherae Ashwood, Graduate Assistant
Sheraé joined the Academic Success Center as a French tutor in 2012, then transitioned to a SMART Lab tutor in 2013. Sheraé has tutoring experience at the elementary, middle, and high school level and is a CRLA Certified Level 1 tutor. Sheraé has a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of South Florida and is currently pursuing her M.A.T. in Mathematics Education (grades 6 -12).
Tanay Bhalerao, Graduate Assistant
Tanay started working in the Academic Success Center in 2014. As a Graduate Assistant, he is responsible for ensuring the proper working of the computer applications used in SMART Labs along with technical assistance for efficient management in the Lab. Tanay earned a B.S in Computer Engineering and has worked in the Information Technology industry for around 3 years as a Business Intelligence/Analytics Developer. He has also imparted on-the-job training on multiple occasions. He is currently pursuing his M.S in Management Information Systems from University of South Florida. He is particularly interested in social network analysis, data visualization and machine learning. Apart from this, Tanay enjoys mountaineering, good food and music, and meeting interesting people.
C. Michelle Bradshaw, Graduate Assistant
Michelle began working as a Graduate Assistant in the SMART Lab in the fall of 2015. She is a 2014 graduate of Florida Southern College where she earned her B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in music. At Florida Southern, Michelle gained experience as a tutor for the Student Success Center, leading study sessions for calculus, and tutoring math of all levels privately. Currently, Michelle is pursuing her M.A. in Statistics while also continuing her passion for the performing arts by volunteering with local music programs. In her free time, Michelle enjoys photography, playing cello, and visiting Walt Disney World.
Sergio Luya, Graduate Assistant
Sergio has been working in the Academic Success Center as a tutor since the Fall of 2012 and is currently working as a Graduate Assistant for the SMART Lab as of Fall of 2015. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering and he’s currently in the M.A.T program for Mathematics. He is a CRLA Certified Level 2 tutor and has tutored every math subject up to Calculus 3 as well as a few engineering courses. Sergio has big aspirations to improve the education system in Florida and has a passion for teaching. Roger Federer is his hero and he loves to play tennis and edit videos during his free time.
Renae Knowles, Graduate Assistant
Renae joined the Academic Success Center in 2016. She has a B.S. in Professional Management with a concentration in Accounting, and is currently pursuing a M.A.T. in Mathematics Education (grades 6 – 12).
Renae has more than 20 years of professional work experience, and have held several job posts in the Telecommunications Industry, with her previous role as an Accountant in the Financial Department. During her spare time, Renae enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.
Veera Challapalli, Graduate Assistant
Veera started working at Academic Success Center as tutor for Statistics since the spring of 2014 and is currently working as Graduate Assistant for the SMART Lab as of spring of 2016. As a Graduate Assistant, his responsibilities include generating time reports for SMART Lab Courses along with technical assistance for efficient management of Lab. Veera earned his M.S in Mechanical Engineering at University of South Florida and currently pursuing his Second Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. He is particularly interested in Data Driven Analytics, Statistical Quality Management, Engineering Design and Reliability Analysis. Apart from this, Veera enjoys playing cricket and basketball.
Coordinator: Danielle Farrar
- Ph.D., English Literature, University of South Florida (in progress)
- M.A., English Literature, University of South Florida (2012)
- M.Litt., Shakespeare and Performance, Mary Baldwin College (2008)
Danielle is a doctoral candidate in Literature. Her research incorporates digital humanities techniques to examine staging practices of female embodiment at intersections of early modern drama and the histories of gynecology/obstetrics, anatomy, and medicine.
Assistant Coordinator: Sandy Branham
- Ph.D., Texts and Technology, University of Central Florida (in progress)
- M.A., Rhetoric and Composition, University of South Florida (2012)
Sandy is currently working toward the completion of her dissertation, which examines connections between the use of social media and the development of digital literacy skills in the U.S. military.
Assistant Coordinator: Rob Alexander
- M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of South Florida (in progress)
- B.A., English Writing, DePauw University (2008)
Robert is currently working on a collection of realistic short stories and flash fiction.