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, Ph.D., Learning and Development Facilitator
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, an M.Ed. in Earth Sciences and has 17 years of teaching experience at both the secondary and college levels. Currently, Mark earned his Ph.D. in Science Education from USF with a research interest in the relationship between socioscientific issues, environmental education, and citizenship.
Ana T. Torres-Ayala, Ph.D., 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.
Monica Quintero, Learning and Development Facilitator
Monica joined the SMART Lab as the Learning and Development Facilitator in 2016. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, with a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A.T. in Mathematics Education. Her experience includes three years of teaching high school math and over six years of owning and managing a small business. The SMART Lab provides her a unique opportunity to combine her backgrounds in both education and daily operations management. In her free time, Monica enjoys spending time with her family, spending time outdoors and working on projects around the house.
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.
Tia Arvaneh, Graduate Assistant
Tia began working as a Graduate Assistant in the Fall of 2016. She graduated from USF in the Spring of 2016 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. She is currently in the Biomedical Engineering M.S. program. Tia has previous experience as a Learning Team Mentor for Pre-Calculus through the College of Engineering. Apart from working in the SMART Lab, Tia is involved in orthopedic biomechanics research as well as community health advocacy projects.
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 an M.A.T. in Mathematics Education (grades 6 – 12). Renae has more than 20 years of professional work experience and has held several jobs 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.
Minh Pham, Graduate Assistant
Minh began working as a Graduate Assistant in the SMART Lab in the Spring of 2017. He graduated from USF with a B.A. in Statistics in May 2016 and is currently in the Statistics M.A. program with a research interest in Machine Learning. Minh has three years of tutoring experience and a year of actuarial experience. He has a passion for table tennis and often obtains life balance from playing table tennis regularly. During his free time, Minh enjoys reading novels and watching documentaries on the history of economics and politics.
Menaka Ujoodha, Graduate Assistant
Menaka began working as a Graduate Assistant in the SMART Lab in the Fall of 2016. She graduated from USF with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and is currently pursuing her Master of Accountancy at the USF Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy. She aspires to become a CPA and is currently working towards that goal. As an undergraduate, Menaka was a tutor in the Academic Success Center, providing one-on-one and group-tutoring to Accounting and Finance students. During her free time, she loves to hang out with her friends and try Boba tea at different places around USF.
Danielle Farrar, Assistant Director
Danielle has been working for the Academic Success Center since 2011 as a writing consultant, Assistant Coordinator, and Coordinator before stepping into her current role. Danielle is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at USF and HASTAC Scholar and holds an M.A in English Literature from USF and an M.Litt. in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin College. Her research interests include early modern revenge drama, digital humanities, embodiment theory, lexicography, and body studies. Additionally, she is interested in writerly embodiment and how digital technologies in writing centers reinforce writing as a social and bodily process. Danielle has also worked as a studio artist and graphic designer and continues to enjoy painting as well as digital methods of artistic and instructional creation.
Annalise Mabe, Coordinator
Annalise started working for the Academic Success Center as a writing consultant in 2015 and as a Coordinator in 2016. Annalise is currently completing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing – Creative Nonfiction at USF and holds a B.A. in Psychology from Florida State University. She is currently working on a collection of essays that examine the view of the female body in Western society, relationships, and spirituality or lack thereof.
Jay Thompson, Coordinator
Jay has been working for the Academic Success Center as a writing consultant since 2014 and as a Coordinator in 2016. Jay is currently completing her M.F.A in Creative Writing – Fiction at USF and holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.S. in Psychology from North Central College. Jay writes fiction, edits the literary magazine weirderary.com, and founded and hosts the monthly, live literature event First Draft.