April Ollivier, M.S.
Christina Cherry, M.S
Christine Contestable, M.Div., Ph.D.
Jeilani Athman, M.Ed
Jon Bernal, M.Ed.
April Ollivier, M.S (she/her/hers)
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” –Helen Keller. This is my favorite quote and I like to think of all the ups, downs and sometimes circuitous route of college life as a grand adventure. I am here as a guide to assist you on your collegiate journey. There are so many AMAZING opportunities to explore here at the University of Utah and I want you to take full advantage of your time here.
A little bit about me…I grew up in Provo, Utah and I adore mountaineering, mountain biking, and swing dancing. I went to the University of Oregon for my B.S. and afterward, I went on an LDS mission to California (Spanish-speaking). Five years later I made my way to the University of Utah for my M.S. in Experiential Education. I’ve worked with college students for the past nine years in Utah and Colorado. I’m especially interested in assisting students to increase their leadership and time management skills. I’m here to ADVOCATE for you so please reach out and let me know how I can enrich your experience at the U.
Christina Cherry, M.S (she/her/hers)
My pledge to you… I promise that I will bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations of what we can achieve together. My experience in student support, my passion for making a positive impact and occasionally my humorous moments is what I can offer in the aim of supporting you in becoming an empowered, independent, successful student and general awesome human being!
Originally from Brighton, England, I moved to Utah with my husband and lovely dog Buzz earlier this year to follow our dream of living in a new country, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people and having an adventure! I am a ski mad, sports enthusiast, cake making, a cake eating machine who is positively passionate about life.
From a teaching background, I have taught personal development and physical education for the past 6 years. Prior to achieving my teaching degree from the University of Brighton (England), I gained an Undergrad and Postgraduate degrees in Sports Coaching from the University of Western England.
Just like life, college is not always the smooth road that we hope it will be. You may encounter a diversion along the way, a bump in the road, find that you just get a little lost or need to take a breath. But what I quickly learnt from my own journey is that they are all experiences. Your experiences, which will shape you and your time here. That’s what we are here to do. I will support you in connecting you with the right people and provisions to make it the most positive, exciting and smooth sailing experience as possible.
Christine Contestable, M.Div., Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
What do you want to know about me?
I’m a teacher, and I’m a learner. I’m convinced that each of us is always in a state of becoming, that life is a journey, and that the best way to live it is to engage fully each opportunity that comes our way.
I’ve taught at the collegiate level since 2002. Before that, as an ordained minister, I worked with youth and young adults across the state of Utah. I hold a B.A. in English, a M.Div., and a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah.
I grew up in southern Arizona and have lived some different places, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. I love growing things and preparing food to share. I also love hiking in slot canyons, watching birds, and anything that includes water. I agree with Gloria Anzaldua that each of us is a multiple and cannot be defined by a single identity and with Isak Dinesen who said, “The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the ocean.” My wife, Stacy, and I live in a beautiful brick Victorian built in 1896. I’ve learned many skills working on our home—electrical, indoor and outdoor plumbing, construction, landscaping—and take great pleasure in knowing every corner of it intimately.
I need to feel that the work I do matters. I’ve never cared about making a lot of money. I’m more interested in things of greater worth. To me, this life is about making connections. It’s about relationships and how we treat each other. That’s why I do this work. I am committed to supporting you wherever you are in your journey, whatever your particular situation, whatever your needs and aspirations. And if I’m not the best fit for you, we’ll figure out who is.
Jeilani Athman, M.Ed. (he/him/his)
We all have our unique experiences, stories and life journeys that contribute to who we are today. In working with you, I believe in upholding your human dignity as an integral factor towards success.
I grew up in the coastal region of Kenya in Africa where I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Nairobi, majoring in Education and Religious Studies. Upon graduating, and after teaching in public school for years, I traveled to Malaysia to pursue my masters in Educational Leadership and Management, a degree that I did not complete because I reunited with my family in the U.S.A on an immigrant visa. I recently graduated from the U with my master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy and a concentration in Student Affairs.
My experiences have revolved around students. A teacher by profession, I have taught students from diverse backgrounds, and countries – and in the process, I learned a lot which I am excited to share with you. As a lifelong-learner and previously as a student, I was involved with different leadership roles and activities. Throughout my academic journey, I was mentored by many people – I would love to serve as a mentor to you and share what I have learned.
During my free time, if I am not watching soccer then I am playing competitively with friends. – By the way, I am a fan of Chelsea in English Premier League, and a Real Madrid fan in the Spanish league, with Real Salt Lake being my favorite local team. Initially, swimming was a necessary skill to survive in Kenya and now I enjoy it leisurely. I love meeting new people and making and maintaining friendships.
As your Student Success Advocate, together we will build a relationship and further support a campus environment that affirms your holistic development as a college student. I will connect you to the unique opportunities and the appropriate people the U has to offer and nurture your sense of efficacy, belonging, and success. Remember, your success in all its forms and shapes is my upper most priority. I am here to meet, connect, interact and learn about your experiences at the times, location(s), and spaces that are most convenient for you!
Jon Bernal, M.Ed. (he/him/his)
Throughout my professional career, my top goal has been to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Whether this impact was in my previous career in politics or through higher education, the goal has remained the same – make someone’s life better by removing hurdles, offer insight and guidance to solve problems, and eventually influence change on multiple levels.
A little about me…After graduating from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science, I spent ten years working in politics in Washington, DC, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Utah. After my career in politics, I moved back to the Beehive State and obtained a Master’s in Education, Leadership, and Policy with an emphasis in Student Affairs from the University of Utah.
In my spare time, I like to visit antique stores, watch movies at Broadway Theater, work in the garden, consume all types of food, meet interesting and engaging people, cheer for various University of Utah sporting teams, watch concerts at Red Butte Gardens, and spend time with family and friends.
Lisa Lewis, M.Ed. (she/her/hers)
Welcome to the next step on your academic journey! Whether you are a first-year student, a transfer student, or you are getting close to graduating, by contacting a Student Success Advocate you have found a great avenue for support.
I grew-up in Utah and am a graduate of the University of Utah where I earned a BA in both Anthropology and Art History. From there my journey has taken me across the West. I lived for several years in Montana, New Mexico and in the rural lands of Utah including Loa and Mount Pleasant. I love to be outside exploring the wilder places in the west. I find great peace and joy in mountains and deserts that surround us, and love to play in the snow, sand, and rocks. Skiing, floating rivers, hiking, running, and biking are among my favorite activities. When I’m home I love to garden and create mixed media arts and crafts with found objects. I have two step-sons that keep me laughing and celebrating life’s gifts.
While in Montana, I earned my M.Ed. at the University of Montana. I worked for a few years in K-12 education but found that my passion is in higher education. In New Mexico, I worked for a two-year college as a grant director and an instructor. I help design and implement programs aimed at building student success for first generation, underrepresented, and under-resourced students. Mentoring programs and supplemental instruction are examples of programs I worked with. I come back to the U of U with a great appreciation of how a connection with one caring person on campus can make a difference in a student’s academic experience.
Thanks for being curious and looking into the opportunities the Student Success Advocate program offers. It would be great to have the chance to meet you and hear the story of your journey.
Melanie Lee, M.S. (she/her/hers)
About me… I am a leadership nerd, BBQ aficionado, and sports fan. I am originally from Kansas City, MO and have spent time in Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Utah. Currently, I am an Educational Leadership & Policy Ph.D. student here at the U and am interested in the experiences of students’ perceptions of access to programs on campuses. Prior to landing in Utah, I lived and worked in New Orleans as an academic adviser and first-year experience instructor. I hold a Master’s degree in College Student Personnel from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Leadership Studies from Christopher Newport University.
My philosophy for working with students is nothing magical (sorry, no sweet patronus here), but is instead student-centered. Ahem.. that means you. I am here to be a resource for you and it is my job to soak up as much information as humanly possible to be the best resource I can be. Colleges and universities are their own universe with new names for things and new processes for how things are done. My job is to help you navigate this strange place we get to share together.
Once you complete your adventure at the University Of Utah and can confidently say you are a little bit different, and you have grown, as a result of your time here that means as a team, we accomplished what we set out to do and we are all enriched because of that.
Tramaine Jones, M.A.Ed. (he/him/his)
I am Midwest born and was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2013, I earned my Bachelor of Science in recreation and sports management with a minor in coaching at Indiana State University. From there, I moved to Ohio and earned my Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in sports coaching in 2015. Now I am a Student Success Advocate at the U and am excited to work with you.
During the last half-decade, my life has been built around working with students. This journey started during my undergraduate years as a peer mentor and continued on to my graduate school years as a graduate mentor. What I have learned most about working with students is that you can be under a lot of pressure. I am here as a Student Success Advocate to help fill your journey with opportunities and experiences that can help take some of that pressure away. I am a Student Success Advocate because I want to pay it forward to you at the U. As a Student Success Advocate, I am here for you!
As a Student Success Advocate, I will connect you to resources that will enhance your success. If I don’t know the answer to your questions, I will work my hardest to find the answers. I want you to know that I am here for your success and will support you in any way I can.
My advice to you is to stay open-minded. The U is a very diverse campus with many people from different backgrounds. Keeping your mind open allows the opportunity to hear everyone’s story.
Wazir Jefferson, Ed.D. (he/him/his)
Consciousness and equality have always been at the forefront of my being. As a “teacher and a learner,” I believe it is important to meet you right where you are.
As a Student Success Advocate, you can count on me to bring: 1) Passion – energy to meeting you right where you are and the time needed to get to know you; 2) Awareness – all of us (myself included) have experienced help, support, and encouragement along the journey to graduation; 3) Sensitivity – acknowledgement of all parts of your identities with no parts of your being left out; and 4) Knowledge – to connect you with the resources, people, and offices at the University of Utah who can offer additional support.
I graduated from Temple University with my Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies and Human Resources. From there, I went to The George Washington University where I graduated with a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Human and Organizational Studies. I completed my Doctorate of Education with a Higher Education emphasis here at the University of Utah.
My advice to you: remain open to learning. You have a lot to give and receive. There are no arrival dates or shortcuts to learning – it is a lifelong process. I look forward to meeting you and sharing in your journey on the unwinding educational path.