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.
Shaina Gonzalez, Academic Support Coordinator
Shaina started working in the Academic Success Center as a Graduate Assistant in 2010. After finishing her M.Ed. in Instructional Technology, she worked as an academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences and as an adjunct instructor for first-year seminar courses as well as Learning Strategies, before returning to the Academic Success Center as the Academic Support Corrdinator in 2013. Current research interests surround a holistic approach to academic success focusing on issues students face both inside and outside the classroom.
Mark Newton, Graduate Assistant
Mark has been working for the Academic Success Center since 2012 as the Chemistry Center coordinator. 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.
Jessica Montgomery, Graduate Assistant
Jessica Montgomery joined at the Academic Success Center as a Graduate Assistant in 2014. Jessica previously worked as a Middle School Math teacher in Hillsborough County and also spent time working in the non-profit sector as a fundraiser and volunteer recruiter. Jessica holds a M.S. in Political Science and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Measurement. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
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.
Radhika Mehrotra, Graduate Assistant
Radhika has been working for the SMART Lab as a Graduate Assistant since 2014. Radhika has earned a B.A. in Biochemistry with her dissertation in comparing the pharmaceutical,surgical and preventative health developments between men and women. She has teaching experience at the middle and highschool levels as well as in the patient-education clinical setting. Currently, Radhika is pursuing her M.P.H in behavioral health education.
James Murduca, Graduate Assistant
James joined the Academic Success Center as a Graduate Assistant in 2015. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a focus in Water Resources. As an undergraduate he tutored STEM classes at the TCNJ Tutoring Center. He believes that many STEM students and the field itself can benefit with additional help and motivation, which the SMART Lab and other services outside of the classroom can offer. His future professional interests include water management, STEM education, and international development.
Shana Williams, Graduate Assistant
Shana joined the Academic Success Center as a Graduate Assistant in 2014. Shana earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Biomedical Physics from the University of South Florida. As a undergraduate, Shana served students living on campus as a Resident Assistant. After graduation, Shana served in an administrative capacity at a local pediatric medical daycare facility. Shana enjoys being able to work with students on campus again in the SMART Lab while pursuing a Master of Public Health degree in Health Education. In her spare time, Shana enjoys volunteering in the community, cooking, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Megan McIntyre, Coordinator
Megan has been the Writing Studio Coordinator since 2014. Megan earned her M.A. in English Literature in 2009 and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in English Rhetoric and Composition. Megan’s research interests focus on connections between rhetorical agency and technology as seen in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.