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Meet Our Staff


Patricia Maher

Patricia A. Maher, Ph. D., Director

Dr. Maher has been the Director of Tutoring & Learning Services 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 office of Tutoring and Learning Services 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.  As the Assistant Director for Tutoring and Learning Services she helps oversee the daily operations of the center.  In addition her responsibilities include hiring and supervising tutoring staff, managing center schedules, policies and procedures, and facilitating tutor training as needed. 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.


Ana T. Torres-Ayala, Assistant Director

Ana is the manager for the SMART lab. She oversees the learning support services provided in the Lab, coordinates schedules, policies and procedures in collaboration with the Math department, and supervises Lab staff. Ana joined Tutoring and Learning Services in August 2012.

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 STEM.

Karen Langbehn

Karen Langbehn, Coordinator


  • PhD, English Rhetoric and Composition, University of South Florida (in progress)
  • MA, English Rhetoric & Composition, University of North Carolina – Charlotte (2010)

Current Research:

Karen’s dissertation topic in “applied” rhetoric of science focuses on the development of methodologies and frameworks that support the decision-making processes of policy-relevant science.

Shaina Gonzalez

Shaina Gonzalez, Academic Support Coordinator

As the Academic Support Coordinator, Shaina Gonzalez coordinates a nationally certified tutor training program and trains tutors campus-wide.  She also serves as the instructor of record of the Learning Strategies course and works to design curriculum based on the most up-to-date learning theory.

Shaina started working at Tutoring and Learning Services 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 Tutoring and Learning Services in 2013.  Current research interests surround a holistic approach to academic success focusing on issues students face both inside and outside the classroom.

Casey Williams

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.

M Newton photo

Mark Newton, Graduate Assistant

Mark has been working for Tutoring and Learning Services since 2012 as the Chemistry Center coordinator.   His responsibilities include managing the General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry tutors.  Mark also plans and implements study skills workshops offered by Tutoring  and Learning Services.

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.

Melanie L. Wicinski, Graduate Assistant

Melanie is the the Front Desk Coordinator where she manages 25 front desk staff.  Additionally, she plans and implements several of the study skills workshops that are offered by Tutoring and Learning Services as well as planning and implementing the Tutoring and Learning Services portion of the University Experience course.

Melanie is a Doctoral Candidate in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Adult Education. Melanie earned her B.S. and M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education and has been a child care director, adjunct professor and corporate trainer in the child care industry for over 15 years.

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