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Meet The SSC Team

Meet the Team

Dr. Keryn Vickers joined the Watson College of Education (WCE) Office of Student Advising in 2021 as the Inaugural Director. He began his academic career over 20 years ago at DePauw University, advising, coaching, and mentoring students and leading a community non-profit organization. Dr. Vickers has served students at UNCW since 2006, as Assistant Director of Admissions, an Academic Advisor and Interim Coordinator in University College, a First-Year seminar and Africana Studies instructor, and leader and champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Dr. Vickers is a native New Yorker, but he earned a BA in Communication Arts & Sciences from DePauw University in Indiana. He also earned an MA in Recreation & Sports Management from Indiana State University and is a WCE alum after earning an Ed.D. in Education Leadership.

Dr. Vickers is passionate about education and strategically implements diverse, high impact and best practices or services that support all students' holistic development. When Dr. Vickers is not serving in WCE, he can be found spending quality time with family, expressing his faith, playing sports, and being a servant leader in his community.

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Ms. Grace Burmester joined the WCE in 2022 as the Student Engagement Specialist & Academic Advisor. Previously, Grace worked at the University of Florida for nine years, including in Academic Advising, early undergraduate research, dual enrollment, and the UF Outreach Pre-collegiate programs for high school students and teachers. She also served on her unit’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee and as a Multicultural Mentor. Grace has a BA in Technical Theatre and Environmental Science from Goshen College, IN, and an MS from the University of Florida focusing on communication and collaboration in natural resources. She is from Minnesota but grew up with visits to extended family in NC.

Grace is passionate about academic pipelines, including increasing access and success for a more inclusive future. For fun, you can find her outside hiking, kayaking, or reading in a hammock, or inside playing board games or watching movies.

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Sara Fowler joined the WCE in August 2021 as a graduate assistant and after completing her Masters has continued with the office as an Academic Advisor. A graduate of Watson herself, she completed her Master's in Education with a Higher Education specialization. She is excited to continue to work with the Student Success Center to focus on students progressing through their academic goals. She is passionate about supporting students through the advising process and using an appreciative, strengths-based approach to focus on students’ individual strengths to develop academically and holistically.

When not at work supporting students through their academic journey, Sara enjoys reading, baking, taking her dog to the beach, and exploring new places.

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Tonnia Rodriguez joined the WCE as an advisor in June of 2022. She received both her Bachelors' degree in Psychology and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from UNCW. Tonnia spent time in the classroom teaching middle school learners before she transitioned to a role in higher education as a Success Coach at Cape Fear Community College. There she discovered her love for supporting diverse students by cultivating meaningful relationships with them and helping them navigate college life.

Tonnia brings her talent, skills, experience, and passion for learning and helping others to this position. She is a native Wilmingtonian and is a proud product of New Hanover County's school system. In her free time, she enjoys trying new foods, binging her favorite shows, spending time with her family, and watching her baby girl grow! She is excited to be back at home at Watson to help be a guide to our students!

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Jelene Grace joined the WCE in January 2023 as an Academic Advisor. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading from Texas Woman’s University and Master’s in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education from Texas A&M University. Most recently Jelene worked here at UNCW in the Transition Programs Office as an Assistant Director for the former Seahawk Success Center and working with second-year and transfer student programming. Jelene has served as an Academic Advisor and administrator for most of her career in higher education, also having experience in residence life, living-learning communities, peer mentoring programs, orientation, and student success.

After working with students throughout high school and through a summer bridge program, she wanted to learn more about the student experience from the time of orientation to graduation. Her inquisitive nature led her to academic advising. In her spare time she can be found spending time with family/friends, enjoying a good book, shopping, baking, and cruising to exotic locations. Jelene also has a love for anything purple.

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Miriam Cone earned a BA in English from Trinity University and is a fiction candidate in the Creative Writing MFA program at UNCW. She is originally from the Tampa Bay area in Florida and is happy to now call Wilmington her home. She joined the WSSC Office as a Graduate Assistant in 2020 out of her desire to help future educators grow and develop throughout their time in Watson.

When she’s not working or writing, Miriam enjoys hanging out with her two cats, reading, baking, crafting, playing video games, and going to the beach.