The Team

  • Dr. Valerie Whittlesey, PI

    Dr. Valerie Whittlesey, Coca-Cola Scholars Program Administrator

    Dr. Valerie Whittlesey is Associate Vice President for Curriculum and Professor of Psychology at Kennesaw State University. She joined the KSU faculty in 1992, served as Chair of the Psychology Department from 1998 to 2002, and joined the Office of the Provost in 2004. Dr. Whittlesey has more than 60 publications and presentations in the areas of social and cognitive development, learning outcomes assessment, and diversity in teaching psychology. Dr. Whittlesey is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and completed the University System of Georgia Executive Leadership and the AASCU Millennium Leadership programs.

    • Dr. Ruth Goldfine, Co-PI

      Dr. Ruth Goldfine, Coca-Cola Scholars Co-Program Administrator

      Dr. Ruth Goldfine is Interim Associate Dean for University College and a Professor of English at Kennesaw State University. She taught in KSU’s English Department before joining University College in 2004. She served as Chair of the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies for four years before taking on the role of Interim Associate Dean of University College, a position she has held since August 2016. Dr. Goldfine’s body of research includes both publications and presentations that focus on first-year students and first-year initiatives. A first-generation student herself, Dr. Goldfine is committed to promoting the success of first-generation students in higher education. Dr. Goldfine received her Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree from the University of Dayton, and her PhD from Georgia State University.

      • Dr. Jennifer A. Wade-Berg, Co-PI

        Dr. Jennifer A. Wade-Berg, Coca-Cola Scholars Co-Program Administrator

        Jennifer A. Wade-Berg, Ph.D. CNP is an Associate Professor of Human Services and Campus Executive Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Certificate Program. Her teaching emphasis is nonprofit management. Her research and publications are on cultural competence, sports philanthropy, student retention and curriculum mapping. In addition to her faculty responsibilities, Dr. Wade-Berg is the PI/Program Administrator for two grant funded initiatives: KSU’s Recruitment, Retention, and Progression to Graduation Program for Hispanic and Latino Students and the Department of Education’s First in the World Grant for KSU’s Transfer Advocate Gateway. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Wesleyan University (CT), and her master’s and doctoral degrees in Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

        • Dr. Lynn Disbrow, Dean of University College

          Dr. Lynn Disbrow, Dean of University College

          Lynn M. Disbrow is Dean of the University College and Professor of Leadership Studies at Kennesaw State University. Disbrow oversees University College’s innovative interdisciplinary academic offerings and its nationally recognized programs for first-year students. She has receive numerous international, national, and state accolades. Disbrow holds a Ph.D. from Wayne State University, Master of Arts from Emerson College, and a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University-South Bend.

          • Kyra Calhoun, Graduation Coach

            Kyra Calhoun, Graduation Coach

            Kyra Calhoun is a Graduation Coach in the Thrive Program at Kennesaw State University, where she supports students as they learn to navigate the college environment. She is passionate about helping students grow, develop and achieve their academic and personal goals. Before coming to KSU in 2016, she held the role of program manager at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and oversaw programming that enhanced student life and success for medical, undergraduate and high school students. In 2014, she received Loyola’s Commitment to Excellence award for service to students. Kyra holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from Northwestern University and a Master of Education in Higher Education from Loyola. 

            • Shae Smith

              Shae Smith

              Shae Smith began her career in higher education working in Student Affairs, as the Assistant Director of Student Activities and then Director of Residence Life for a private college in Florida. Upon moving to Georgia, she took her leadership experience into the nonprofit sector, where she led numerous programs and headed up multiple organizations in Cobb County and the surrounding area, and was a member of the Leadership Cobb Class of 2001. She later returned to higher education, teaching public speaking courses and the first-year seminar. In 2014, she began leading the Thrive Scholars Program at Kennesaw State University. She holds a B.A. in Communications and an M.A. in Counselor Education. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree she was named one of the “Top 20 Students in Florida Colleges and Universities.”

              • April Braxton Headshot

                April Braxton, Administrative Associate

                April Braxton is the Administrative Associate in the University College Academic Support Department on the Marietta Campus. A native of Tacoma, Washington, she recently relocated to the Atlanta GA area summer of 2017 and joined the KSU staff the following December. April completed her AAS in Human Services from Tacoma Community College and plans to continue with her Bachelor’s degree in Family Counseling. She has worked and volunteered with many youth and family nonprofit organizations for over 25 years in various capacities. Her accomplishments include serving with the North Pacific Baptist Convention as the Youth Leader; and spearheading a nonprofit homeless and low-income daycare where children were transported to and from the facility to give parents in transition the opportunity to look for employment or enroll in school. April also taught and choreographed dance for 17 years to children and youth of ages 5 – 18 years incorporating sign language to Liturgical, Interpretive, Hip-Hop, Step and African dance. She is mother of two adult daughters and grandmother to a 3 year old grandson.

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