Click here to go back to the home page Click on this link to view the screenreader friendly and text only version of this website

Pathways Faculty and Staff

Meet the NLU team serving the students in our Pathways program, which lets students earn their undergraduate degrees with little to no out-of-pocket expense.


Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
Aarti Dhupelia, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives [+]

Aarti oversees the Undergraduate College at National Louis University (NLU) along with other University partnerships and initiatives supporting the success of undergraduate students. She is a firm believer that education is the greatest driver of success in life and is passionate about ensuring every young person has access to high-quality education.  

Prior to joining NLU, Aarti spent eight years in several senior leadership roles at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), most recently serving as CPS' Chief Officer for the Office of College and Career Success, where she drove strategies around attendance and truancy, drop-out re-engagement, out-of-school time, social and emotional learning, college and career planning, and early college and career acceleration coursework.  Before joining CPS, Aarti spent several years as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies at Marakon Associates. 

She holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University, where she studied Economics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences.  

Outside of work, Aarti is a die hard Cubs fan, has definitely been to more Janet Jackson concerts than you (no matter who's reading this!), loves spending time with her nephew and niece (Ajay and Asha), and has mastered the art of TV binge-watching marathons.

Faculty and Staff

Director of Undergraduate Programming, Wheeling
Pauline DeGrazia, Director of Undergraduate Programming, Wheeling [+]

Pauline began her career in the corporate world which included owning and managed a staffing business for four years. Assisting clients with job placements solidified Pauline's desire to help people improve their lives. Pauline joined NLU in 2009 and is especially committed to NLU’s value of providing access to higher education.

Pauline's began her career at NLU in the Response Center and progressed into an Assistant Director role in the Office of Student Finance and Student Success Advisor for the Wheeling and Elgin campuses. Pauline began working with the Pathways program in her role as Wheeling Campus Manager which expanded into her current position as Director of Undergraduate Programming, Wheeling campus. She leads the Enrollment, Outreach, and Retention efforts for Pathways at Wheeling. Pauline is passionate about helping first generation college students access and succeed in achieving their dream of a bachelor’s degree.

Pauline holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Marquette University and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Training and Development at the University of St. Francis.

Director of Enrollment and Strategic Growth
Serah Fatani, Director of Enrollment and Strategic Growth [+]

Serah is a California girl who found herself in Chicago and fell in love with its diversity and culture. Here, she studied Psychology at DePaul University while working for the local school district. During her 14 years with the district she found that the most inspirational leaders were the ones that were driven to realize the best outcomes for children and families while creating engaged and collaborative work spaces. Serah is driven to emulate these characteristics and passionate about making impacts in the lives of children and young adults. In her free time, Serah enjoys finding a good park bench to people watch, spending time with family and friends and planning her next travel adventure. She is grateful for the journey of life, the people who have touched it and the places it has wandered through.

Chrissy Hart, Director of General Education [+]

Chrissy is the Director of General Education. In this role, she supports the General Education curriculum for National Louis and works to maximize student success in the Harrison Professional Pathways Program. Before arriving at NLU, Chrissy worked as a teacher, high school principal, and school co-founder. Chrissy is driven to ensure that more students have equal access to college and all of life’s opportunities, and that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed once there. She has worked in schools in Washington D.C., Chicago, Illinois and Gary, Indiana.  

She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from The American University in Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Chrissy is a loyal Illini and Bears fan, as challenging as that may be. She has lived in neighborhoods on the North, West and South sides of the city and spent a summer exploring (nearly all) of Chicago’s 77 official neighborhoods. 

Director of New Undergraduate Initiatives and Pathways at NLU/Assistant Professor
Stephanie Poczos, Director of New Undergraduate Initiatives and Pathways program, and Assistant Professor [+]

Stephanie is one of the principle designers of NLU's Pathways program, which is an affordable and adaptive undergraduate program that provides comprehensive, personalized support for students of any socioeconomic status. Stephanie has worked at NLU for ten years in many areas of the University, most notably designing and implementing the B.A. in Applied Communications program launched in 2013. She has taught in NLU’s Applied Behavioral Sciences, Secondary Education, and Applied Communications programs.

Prior to coming to NLU, Stephanie taught English and Senior Studies at the high school level and served as the Director of Online Learning in District 204, often serving populations of high-need and minority students. She has taught and developed courses at a variety if universities, including Charter Oak State College, which was one of the first colleges to utilize a competency-based learning model.

Stephanie is a mom, a Cubs fan and lover of high heels. Before teaching, Stephanie was a Senior Broadcast Producer at Ogilvy and Mather in Chicago and worked with clients around the world. Stephanie holds an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Iowa.

Coach and Director of Student Success, Pathways
Jennifer Robin, Coach and Director of Student Success [+]

Jen is the Coach and Student Success Manager of the Pathways program. After working in the corporate world for a couple of years, Jen realized her passion was working with young adults. She is in awe of the energy this group brings, and there is never a dull moment when you work with young people.

After earning a Master of Arts in Teaching from NLU, she spent ten years teaching English and college-readiness courses such as AVID and OneGoal at a Chicago Public High School in the Uptown neighborhood, where she also resides with her family. Her favorite thing about being a coach is helping students realize their potential for success at the college level. This transition isn’t easy, and it’s important to feel that you have a support system built in on a college campus.

Tracy Templin, Director of Undergraduate Analytics and Strategic Initiatives [+]

Tracy Templin began her career teaching middle school in Baltimore, Maryland. As a result of this experience, she went on to study social and economic development within the context of social justice in order to gain a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and political factors contributing to the communities and educational system surrounding at-risk students. Tracy joins NLU from Chicago Public Schools (CPS), where she developed skills in strategic analysis and planning while working for the District’s alternative schools and magnet, gifted, and International Baccalaureate programs. Tracy has also worked in higher education, serving as the Assistant Director for Admissions and Recruitment for the Brown School at Washington University.

She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University and Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Bachelor of Arts from DePaul University, where she majored in Sociology and English.

Tracy loves food and travel, often planning her next trip or to visit her family in France and Canada. She is always looking for a good book to read (any genre!) and true-crime series to watch.

Nate Flint, Manager of Undergraduate Analytics [+]

Nate Flint is a data professional focused on providing practical, useful analysis and tools to support the everyday practice of all kinds of educators: instructors, counselors, coaches, and administrators. He takes pride in putting data to work for students and educators, and in creating solutions that amplify the effectiveness of practitioners.

As a Project Manager and Data Strategist at the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success, Nate developed a set of technology tools to help counselors and coaches provide timely and targeted postsecondary advising interventions to all students. He also developed and managed an automation and rigorous quality assurance process that allowed for a proven-effective quarterly analysis of freshman success outcomes to be brought to scale for every Chicago Public Schools high school.

In previous roles, Nate has been an implementation specialist at LiveText, Inc., and Director of Operations at The Princeton Review, Inc. He is also a certified Social Studies teacher with a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In his free time, Nate is a musician. His band, Mad Bread, has performed regularly in Chicago and nearby suburbs since 2007 and has independently recorded, produced, and published three albums.

Professor, Pathways
Natasha Kohl, Ph.D., Manager of Career Development [+]

Natasha is an adjunct English instructor with the Pathways program at National Louis University.  She has been teaching college English for the last fifteen years, most recently at Centenary College in New Jersey, where she taught women’s studies, race studies, and American literature.  Natasha also taught high school and junior high school and served as a project and program leader with several nonprofits, focused on youth development and education.

Passionate about teaching, Natasha is a committed educator who hopes to instill in her students the importance of effective communication and critical thinking as well as the central place of stories in helping people to better understand themselves and the world around them.

When not in the classroom, Natasha volunteers in her local community, specifically on issues surrounding racial equity and education.  She also enjoys camping, running, and yoga as well as spending time with her two children, Declan and Lorraine.

Natasha has a PhD in English from Fordham University in NY and a MA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Her BA is in English with a Minor in Religious Studies from the Honors College at the University of New Mexico.

Undergraduate Enrollment and Partnerships Manager, Pathways
Alison Perez, Undergraduate Enrollment and Partnerships Manager [+]

Alison joins the National Louis team as the Undergraduate Enrollment and Partnerships Manager after 11 years with the Chicago Public Schools. During her tenure at CPS, Alison was part of the team that launched the city's first regional vocational center, directed the CTE High School application process that brought in over 56,000 applications last year, created and distributed program reports, and managed the department’s student-focused website.

Alison lives on the southwest side of the city with her husband, Alan and their two dogs. She spends her free time hanging out with her nieces, playing volleyball, practicing yoga, boxing and cooking.

Manager of Undergraduate Analytics
Urvi Thanki, Manager of Undergraduate Analytics [+]

Urvi Thanki comes from a background teaching high school math on the south side here in Chicago. Through this wonderful experience, she developed a passion for helping students succeed, but felt a pull towards her original background in Economics. She then worked at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) where she was able to utilize all the math and statistics she wanted to help schools and departments both understand the data they had, as well as implement improvement strategies. She worked to re-vamp the required Continuous Improvement Work Plan (CIWP) to be better used by schools in examining data to conduct better cycles of root cause analysis for improvement. She comes to NLU from LEAP Innovations, where she became and even better coder, and is excited to use all of these talents to help improve data use at NLU.

Urvi holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from George Washington University in DC, and is currently about to finish her Master of Arts in Teaching from NLU. In her spare time, she loves cooking for friends, spending as much time outside as possible in the summer, and finding new restaurants with great vegetarian options (especially in the winter when she’s longing for sun).

Student Success Coach
Marlee Benton, Student Success Coach [+]

Pathways is incredibly excited to add Marlee Benton to our dynamic team at National Louis University, as of July 11, 2016. Over the past ten years, Marlee worked at Umoja Student Development Corporation, a non-profit organization partnering with CPS high schools throughout the city to provide college readiness, advising, and restorative practice supports to students and teachers. Through this work, Marlee strengthened her passion to support students as they attempt to make their college dreams a reality.

Marlee was Director of Upward Bound, a college readiness program serving Manley High School students. She worked closely with teachers and parents to provide students with academic and college readiness supports. Marlee believes that students have the ability to succeed, if provided with consistent and relevant supports that provide them with the tools and strategies to develop their academic, professional and personal skills to achieve their goals. She is passionate about preparing and guiding first generation students to realize and achieve their dream to graduate from college, which is why she decided this move to NLU – Pathways was a logical next step in her career. She hopes that as a Student Success Coach, she will be able to provide effective support so that her freshmen cohort will find success this school year and until they graduate as the Class of 2020.

Marlee graduated from a CPS school, Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center High School. Through her community involvement, Marlee was awarded the Monsignor Egan Hope Scholarship through DePaul University, where she attended and earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications and a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Student Success Coach
Aurora Flores Garcia, Student Success Coach [+]

The Pathways team is incredibly excited to add Aurora Flores Garcia to our ranks at National Louis University, as of June 1, 2016. For the past three years, Aurora has served as the dynamic Post Secondary Coach at Kelly High School in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood. Aurora has also worked with the Network for College Success and through her experience realized that her belief and desire to increase access and persistence for underrepresented college students aligned perfectly with our goals to grow Pathways to help more students make their college dreams a reality. Through her role at Kelly, Aurora has relentlessly helped thousands of students realize their postsecondary goals. Her realization that there is a gap in the offerings given to students with a high economic need but low college selectivity level is exactly why she believes in what our team is doing in designing the Pathways program.

Aurora is a proud graduate of CPS, as she attended Lincoln Park High School. Aurora was then awarded the prestigious Posse scholarship through which she attended both DePauw University in Indiana, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Spanish, and a Master’s Degree from University of Washington in Seattle in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Student Success Coach
Lady Gil, Student Success Coach [+]

The Pathways team is excited to announce that Lady Gil has joined our team as the Student Enrollment and Success Coach for the Wheeling campus. Lady comes to NLU from Winston Campus Junior High School in Palatine School District 15. At Winston she assisted students as a School Counselor and Facilitator of Parent Outreach. She served as the Chair of the Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee. She worked closely with teachers and parents to provide students with academic and college awareness supports. She planned and delivered in Spanish a variety of parent involvement workshops and trainings to support parent engagement in their child’s school. Lady believes that all students have the ability to succeed when provided with the academic and social emotional support they need. She is passionate about helping all students, especially those who are first generation in this country and first generation to college. She is excited to spread the word in her community about this new program in the Northwest Suburbs.

Lady obtained her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education in her home country of Colombia. After discovering her passion for counseling students, Lady earned her Master’s Degree in School and Community Counseling from DePaul University in 2012. Lady has also recently received her Licensed Professional Counselor Certification.

Please join us in welcoming Lady to NLU! We are excited for her contributions in helping to grow the Pathways program at the Wheeling campus.

Professor/Adjunct Faculty, Pathways
Larry Miller, Student Success Coach [+]

Larry is Chicago native who was born on the Northside but currently resides in Hyde Park, IL.  He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, majoring in English and History. Additionally, he completed his Master of Arts in Teaching degree (Secondary Education) at NLU in 2007.

Larry has taught in Chicago and spent several years teaching middle and high school English/Social Studies in Los Angeles, CA. Outside of his current professional career as an Academic Advisor and Instructor, he loves exercising, hiking, biking, and is an avid sports fan. His allegiances are to the Chicago Bears, Bulls, White Sox, Blackhawks, and his alma mater – Wisconsin Badgers!

Larry loves cooking, traveling, engaging in deep conversation, listening to 90’s hip-hop music, and watching classic 80’s movies. The virtues of honesty, empathy, presence and kindness are what he holds in the highest regard of personal being.

Mfon Akpan
Mfon Akpan, Assistant Professor, Business [+]

Mfon is a full-time faculty member in the Pathways Program at National Louis University. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a MBA and Masters in Accounting and Financial Management from Keller Graduate School of Management and is currently a doctoral candidate, majoring in accounting, at Argosy University. Mfon is also adjunct accounting faculty at Robert Morris University and adjunct business faculty at Olive-Harvey and Harold Washington College. Prior to his doctoral work, he had a successful career as a banker for JPMorgan Chase.

Mfon loves teaching and engaging with his students on and off line. He enjoys incorporating innovative methods of teaching including using social media, his YouTube channel and other emerging technologies. Mfon is an active member of the American Accounting Association’s Conference on Teaching and Learning in Accounting. He collaborates with other researchers in other disciplines of accounting particularly in accounting education.

Mfon is a member of the American Accounting Association, American Finance Association, and the National Association of Black Accountants.

Mfon is a Chicago native and enjoys boxing, crossfit, reading and watching movies in his spare time.

Sabrina Bailey, Ph.D., Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Sabrina teaches science in the Pathways program. She taught Chemistry at the college level in the Chicago area for the past ten years. During her undergraduate years she majored in chemistry with the intent of attending medical school. Spending the summer following her sophomore year made her realize her love for Chemistry. She decided to continue her studies in chemistry and enrolled in graduate school.

Sabrina earned a doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from Howard University. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and excitement for science in general with the next generation.​

Professor, Pathways
Celine Browning, Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Celine is an artist, art writer, and educator with an MFA in Metals. Her work has been shown nationally, and her writing has appeared in a number of print and online publications. More about her work can be found at her website,  Celine believes strongly in the transformative power of art to promote dialogue across a range of difficult topics, and she hopes to instill in her students a deep curiosity in the world around them.  She has been teaching art at the college level since 2010, and she is very happy to join the Pathways team at National Louis.

Professor, Pathways
Brett Byron, Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Brett teaches ENG 101, GEN-099, and GEN-101 on the Wheeling campus. He holds a B.S. in both English and Theatre Education from Illinois State University and a B.A. in Communications from Lake Forest College. Currently, he is completing his Master's of Literature from Northwestern University where he wrote a thesis about how to successfully integrate Shakespeare back into high school and college curricula.

Brett is a passionate educator who, through a myriad of experiences within the Chicagoland area has developed an understanding for what students respond to. Brett began his career in Education teaching high school English and Theatre on the South Side of Chicago and around the Chicagoland area.  He was the head of the newly-found Drama Department at Bogan Computer Technical High School and founded their Improvisation Troupe and Drama Club. Brett is also a proficient director, writer and designer for local theatres and summer camps, and he is a classically-trained actor and enjoys Shakespeare, all types of music, the Cubs and Bears, motorcycles, and anything to do with Batman.

“Never judging, but striving to always be fair” is the motto in every one of his classrooms, along with striving to bring both a sense of humor and passion into every lesson. Brett believes that no one’s ideas are too small, and everyone matters. He also is a brand new father to a baby girl, Aurora.

Professor, Pathways
Christopher (Martin) Caver, Assistant Professor, History [+]

Martin is an instructor in the Pathways Program. He teaches several courses in philosophy, history, and political science.

Prior to joining the HP3 family, Martin received a BA from the University of South Carolina Honor’s College, an MA in philosophy from Queen’s University, an MA in the social sciences from the University of Chicago, and an MA in political science from the University of North Carolina.  He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and his dissertation focuses on the political thought of Hannah Arendt and James Baldwin.

At UNC Martin taught courses in American politics, modern political thought, feminist political theory, and comparative politics. Before leaving Chicago for UNC, he taught high school French at Uplift Community High School here in Chicago.

Outside of work and studies, Martin loves trying out new recipes in the kitchen, spending time with his dog Wilson, and jogging along the lake. 

Professor/Adjunct Faculty, Pathways
Orinna Clark, Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Orinna has been teaching science for over fifteen years at the college level. Her passion is helping students learn science. She enjoys interacting with people and having fun while learning. She cares deeply about her students and their success in school. 

She loves science!  From an early age, Orinna learned the real value of science from her grandparents who were simple organic farmers. She came to understand how important science is to life and everything we hold most sacred in our hearts. It is not something born out of a laboratory and marked by test tubes. Science is how early humans overcame great obstacles to give birth to civilization and our culture as we know it today. She grew up on a farm but spent most of her adolescence in New York City. 

She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, spending many summers on the coast collecting for her Marine Science research. She holds multiple graduate degrees and outside of her career, loves to embrace life by traveling, horseback riding, SCUBA diving, ballroom dancing, and cooking. She also enjoys going to football games and horror movies (the good ones, anyway).  Live, love, and learn!

Bethany Harding, Ph.D.- Assistant Professor, History [+]

Bethany Harding joins the Harrison Professional Pathways Program teaching History and Political Science.

She holds a Ph.D. in Early American History from Marquette University, an M.A. in History from the University of Toledo, and a B.A. from Loyola University Chicago. Past teaching experiences include courses in Early and Modern American History, Latin American History, and Western Civilizations at Marquette and Carroll University.

Outside the classroom, Bethany enjoys reading, walking, kickboxing, and trying to keep up with her young son and baby daughter. 

Tamara Hoff, Ph.D.
Tamara Hoff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Education [+]

Tamara is the Lead Education Instructor for the Pathways Program at National Louis University. A staunch advocate of education equity, she has spent over a decade teaching and cultivating the academic, social, and leadership development of students in higher education. Her educational philosophy is twofold: 1) teaching should inspire lifelong learning and 2) teaching should promote a shared responsibility and concern for issues affecting our society.

Prior to joining the Pathways team, Tamara served as an adjunct professor at a number of higher education institutions in the departments of Educational Policy Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and History. She has taught courses in educational philosophy, gender and education, urban contexts and educational research, and American history.

Tamara obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies with concentrations in African American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research specialization is in the history of American education with a focus on African American women in higher education.

When Tamara is not teaching, she tutors Chicago Public School (CPS) students in mathematics and volunteers as a leadership coach for undergraduates. She is also an avid reader, world traveler, postcard collector, bid whist player, and proud CPS alum.

Roy Kaelin, Assistant Professor, Science [+]

Roy Kaelin currently serves as a Science Instructor in NLU’s Pathways Program. In the past, he has served as an adjunct instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences, teaching natural science courses, including physical science, geology, and ecology, and, courses in business management and organizational behavior.

Prior to his arrival at National Louis University, Roy taught additional courses in the natural sciences at Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University, and Case Western Reserve University.

Roy earned his Bachelor of Science at the University of Illinois (in Geology), a Master of Science in Business Administration (in Logistics) at Iowa State University, and his Science Certification from American College of Education.

Professor, Pathways
Barbara Karpouzian, Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Barbara is a seasoned educator. She recently retired as the Former Executive Director for the Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising with Chicago Public Schools, the 3rd largest urban school district in the nation. There she contributed to policy formation and the development of strategic plans and performance metrics, served on various cross functional teams and oversaw multiple projects and partnerships, drove comprehensive student support services, built high performance teams through robust professional development and resources, and interpreted and implemented local and national policies and standards.

Barbara holds an Illinois Professional Educator’s License and three Master’s degrees in the areas of educational leadership, school counseling and teaching. She currently serves as a consulting educator for Chicago Public Schools and is the President of the Illinois School Counseling Association where she was recognized as School Administrator of the Year in 2012.

Prior to her service with Chicago Public Schools, Barbara spent 18 years in the private sector. She speaks Spanish and conversational Arabic.  She finds joy in serving as a Grow Group mentor and considers her husband of 32 years, two daughters and adorable grandchildren her greatest blessings!

Professor, Pathways
Ian Moncrief, Ph.D., Assistant Professor [+]

Ian is an instructor of science in the Harrison Professional Pathways Program at NLU. He also teaches Biology courses at The City Colleges of Chicago.

Ian is from Oklahoma and has been living in Chicago for almost two years now. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, a Master’s degree in Entomology and Plant Pathology, and a Doctorate in Plant Pathology, all from Oklahoma State University. He enjoys science, and he found a love for teaching as a graduate student.

Ian also loves to spend time with his wife, Robyn and his dog, Sumi. He enjoys going for runs with Sumi on the Lakeshore path and taking her to the Montrose and Belmont dog beaches. Ian also enjoys being with friends and trying new places to eat in Chicago, as well as watching most sports and cheering on his beloved alma mater, OSU.

Instructor of Mathematics in the Pathways Program
Andrew Moore, Professor/Mathematics [+]

Andrew is an instructor of mathematics in the Pathways program at NLU. Prior, he has taught in public high schools in both Rochester and Chicago, as well as taught as an adjunct at a variety of different post-secondary institutions.

Andrew was born and raised in Ohio, moved away to Rochester, NY for college, and in January relocated to Chicago looking for the next adventure. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in Mathematics Education for University of Rochester.

Outside the classroom, Andrew is an avid record collector, woodworker, and disc golf player as well as an experienced board, tabletop, and card game player.

Erin Neubert, Assistant Professor [+]

Erin began her career in education as a middle school teacher at a dual-language school in Pilsen, Chicago.  She transitioned to various administrative roles where she took a lead developing assessment systems, evaluation and professional development structures, and approaches to instruction and curriculum.  She was also the founding Academic Director for a K - 8th grade elementary school on the far West Side of Chicago that serves over 550 students.  Most recently, Erin has taught multiple Humanities, Art, and Career Development college courses in the Chicagoland area.  Erin is passionate about providing all students with access to a high-quality educational experience and loves working with students.  She is committed to the importance of Humanities instruction and believes it is critical to developing one’s values and identity.

Erin enjoys running and reading when she is not spending time with her husband and three children.  She has developed in interest in marathons and triathlons and has participated in each over the last two years.  Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Spanish from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s Degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago.

Professor, Pathways
Jon Oelke, Ph.D., Professor [+]

Jon teaches psychology in the Pathways program at NLU. Outside of NLU, he has been a coach and performer of improvisation for more than 11 years.

He holds a doctorate in business psychology, a master's degree in clinical psychology and currently runs his own consulting company that utilizes improvisation workshops for leadership development. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Elizabeth, since 2014. His favorite games are Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity.

Professor, Pathways
Thenese Polk, Professor/Adjunct Instructor [+]

Thenese grew up on Chicago’s Southside.  She attended CPS schools and graduated from Simeon Vocational High School.  Thenese attained her B.A. in Management and Leadership from Judson University in Elgin, Illinois.  While attending college, Thenese worked full-time at Verizon Wireless as a Customer Service Manager.  She was later promoted to Contract Analyst/Project Coordinator for the Mid-West Region, and she worked in this capacity for 12 years while also beginning her MBA studies at Argosy University.

Thenese previously taught at Harvey School District 147 and at several professional services institutions in the Chicagoland area.  During this time she completed her MBA with a concentration in management.  Most recently, Thenese taught in a job training program for the Management Training Corporation.  Thenese is committed and very passionate about working with students and helping them achieve their educational goals. 

Professor/Adjunct Instructor
Lynessa Rico, Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Lynessa teaches psychology in the Pathways program. She joins NLU as a seasoned business development professional bringing over 15 years of experience in identifying and impacting business growth opportunities and maximizing profits in retail firms and higher education institutions.  In addition to her achievements in consumer insight, strategic innovation, brand development, and market research, Lynessa is Founder and President of Bright Consumer Consulting, a Chicago-based business development and consumer behavior consulting and market research firm.

Lynessa received her undergraduate degrees in Marketing and Management from Wichita State University. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in Business Administration from Wichita State University with a focus in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. After earning her master’s degree, Lynessa received her doctorate in Business Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her research interests include color preference, consumer behavior, behavioral economics, sensory marketing, digital marketing, and personality types.

Lynessa is an avid long-distance runner, having completed 3 full marathons (and counting), and enjoys musical theater. She also loves college basketball and binge-watching Netflix with her daughter and three cats.

Professor/Adjunct Instructor
Gabrielle Schafer, Professor/Adjunct Faculty [+]

Gabrielle is an Adjunct English instructor with the Pathways program and is very excited to be working with students at National Louis University. Prior to teaching at NLU, Gabrielle taught English and Humanities in charter and public schools in Chicago.  She has also developed curriculum for educational publishing companies such as Cambridge Educational Services and American Institutes for Research.

Gabrielle has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a masters' degree in secondary education from NLU. She is also finishing a degree in educational policy at Loyola University.

Outside of teaching, Gabrielle is a singer, songwriter and musician who has recorded albums and toured regionally. She enjoys yoga, traveling, reading and hanging out with her husband and young son. 

Professor, Pathways
Elizabeth Teahan, Assistant Professor, English [+]

Liz teaches English as part of the Harrison Professional Pathways team at National Louis University. She taught English at multiple City Colleges before joining National Louis, where she gained experience working with adult learners, ESL students, students with disabilities, and students ranging in ability from developmental to advanced. She is excited to work with our new Pathways students!

Liz was one of the first to graduate from DePaul University’s 5-year combined BA/MA program in English. She concentrated on creative writing in her undergraduate career and earned her MA in Writing and Publishing. She will read absolutely anything but holds a soft spot for anything with even the slightest connection to Jane Austen.

In addition to writing, Liz also has a love for dance. She is an instructor at a local dance studio in addition to being the head of the modern department. Whether it be through dance, writing, or some other medium of choice, Liz hopes her students at NLU will eventually share and learn to cultivate the same passion for communication and expression she holds.

Professor, Pathways
Margeaux Temeltas, Professor [+]

Margeaux has been teaching for more than 12 years, both in the United States and abroad. She grew up in Northern California and has lived in Istanbul and Berlin. She remains a California girl at heart, despite a decade spent living in Chicago.

Previous to arriving at NLU, Margeaux taught at a public high school on Chicago’s west side for seven years, where she coached her school’s Louder Than A Bomb slam poetry team. Margeaux is a lifelong writer and loves cultivating the writing life in her students.

In addition to writing poetry and creative nonfiction, she also acts and improvises at a variety of Chicago theaters. Her most recent stage role was as Mrs. Hamlin in the world-premiere production of “Mana & Her Underground Family” at Gorilla Tango Theatre. Margeaux also enjoys swing dancing, yoga, and playing the blues harmonica.

Margeaux has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and National Louis University.

Professor, Pathways
Eric VanDemark, Professor/English [+]

Eric has taught college-level reading and writing at a variety of schools throughout Chicago, working with students of widely diverse ages, backgrounds, and ability levels. He has also worked as a professional writer, creating custom e-Learning courses for an array of clients in higher education, healthcare, banking, and hospitality.

Since dictating his first “book,” The Criminal Cat Crime to his Grandmother, Eric has enjoyed creating worlds through writing and exploring worlds through reading. He now works to help students develop their reading, writing, and speaking skills as a way to discover and interact with our world.

Eric has an MFA in Writing from The School of Art Institute of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. When not teaching, he is usually with his wife and friends, playing complicated strategy games, making short films, and competing in video game tournaments with increasingly complicated ceremonies and rules.

Professor, Pathways
Valerie Vistain, Professor/History [+]

Valerie is a history instructor in the Pathways program at National Louis University. Since 2009, she has taught in the City Colleges of Chicago and recently became a full time instructor at NLU. Valerie earned her master's degree in history at the University of Iowa and specialized in African-American history and women's history. In the summer of 2016, Valerie completed a second master's degree in education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There, she focused on urban education and became very involved in creating social justice based and culturally relevant curriculum.

Outside of the classroom, Valerie continues to advance her history knowledge by traveling to historical locations, attending reenactments, and immersing herself in museums. Her life is not solely dedicated to education and history, though. Valerie attends numerous concerts and is very involved in the local music scene in Chicago. She has a dog, Lucy that fills her time with walks, dog beaches, and playing fetch. Valerie has also camped and backpacked in many National Parks. 

Ebony Wilkins, Ph.D.
Ebony Wilkins, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, English [+]

Ebony has been teaching and writing for 15 years. She is the author of children’s fiction, a former preschool educator and education reporter, and English instructor. Her research centers on the intersection of race, children’s literature, and writing.

Prior to joining NLU, Ebony taught integrated communications and composition courses at Harold Washington and Truman Colleges. Her books include We Need More Rocks! (Pearson Education, Inc., 2019), Sellout (Scholastic Press, Inc., 2010), Out of Bounds (U.S. Dream Academy, Inc., 2014), The Will to Dance (Lulu Press, Inc., 2008), and Someone to Hear Me (Lulu Press, Inc., 2009).

She holds a Ph.D. in Literacy, Language, and Culture Education from University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from The New School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalistic Communications from Purdue University.

Currently, Ebony has a middle grade novel in the works, enjoys travel abroad, playing tennis, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends.

Kelly Yousif, Assistant Professor, Mathematics [+]

Kelly is a math instructor in the Pathways Program at National Louis University. She has her undergraduate degree in Finance and worked for JPMorgan Chase as a Personal and Business Banker. She later obtained her Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education from DePaul University. Prior to joining NLU, Kelly taught at the City Colleges of Chicago.

Born and raised in Chicago, Kelly absolutely loves pizza—deep dish of course! Kelly loves to travel and try out new restaurants. During her free time, she likes to play tennis and watch movies. Kelly hopes to one day further her education and obtain a PhD.

Writing Specialist
Marie Becker, Writing Specialist [+]

Marie is a Writing Specialist for the Pathways program’s Chicago campus.  She loves writing, reading, books, and words, and talking and teaching about writing, reading, books and words.

Marie attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, earning an MFA in fiction writing, and she has an additional MA in the Humanities from The University of Chicago, where she wrote her thesis on Victorian fairy tales. Her writing has appeared in print and online in Carbon Culture Review (where she is an associate editor) and Colloquium; she also reviews books for Windy City Reviews.In addition to writing and teaching at NLU, she teaches at Harold Washington College and manages marketing and website content for a mid-size Chicago-based law firm.

Marie loves writing, reading, books, words, and jokes about punctuation. She has two cats, but never enough bookshelves.

Professor, Pathways
Rachel Waymel, Writing Specialist [+]

Rachel is the Writing Specialist for the Pathways program at NLU’s Wheeling campus. She began teaching English in higher education in 2008 at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, and she has since taught at Ohio University, The Ohio State University, and at Harper College. She is firmly committed to teaching students the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond.

Rachel holds an M.A. in English Literature from Ohio University and is completing her Ph.D. in English Literature at The Ohio State University.  Her areas of specialization are medieval English literature, Romantic literature, and Victorian literature.  She has also taught Business Writing and courses on preparing for college-level writing. In addition to teaching and research, Rachel enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband, Scott, and cat, Marcie.

Lydia Mantis, Instructional Support Leader [+]

Lydia has had a variety of experiences working with and for young people. Born and raised in New York, she started her career teaching at a progressive project-based high school. When life brought her to Chicago, she worked as an education researcher before signing on to be a founding teacher and social science department chair of a new CPS high school in Back of the Yards. In that role she also partnered with a number of organizations working to make change for Chicago’s students.

Lydia has a bachelor of arts in history and journalism, and a master of science in teaching from Fordham University. She has also studied peace & justice issues, education policy, and English as a second language.

Lydia loves to spend time with her husband, her daughter, and their dog, Otis, who is named after the Jay-Z/Kanye song.  She enjoys hosting parties, discussing "taboo" topics like politics and religion with friends, and volunteering her time with the Armenian-American church community.

Administrative Coordinator, Pathways
Melanie D. Bonds, Administrative Coordinator [+]

Melanie coordinates, oversees and performs a wide variety of administrative and program support activities on behalf of the VP of Strategic Initiatives and the Director of New Undergraduate Initiatives. She serves as primary point of operational and administrative contact for internal and external constituencies, often on complex and confidential issues. Melanie also coordinates the provision of office and staff support services to the department and participates in coordination, supervision, and completion of special projects and events. 

Prior to joining NLU, Melanie spent more than 15 years in similar roles at The Chicago Housing Authority, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and South Central Community Services. She believes that everyone should be able to receive an affordable and quality education no matter what social, religious, ethnic or racial background to become self-sufficient and provide for their families.

Melanie is an alumnus of National Louis University with a Bachelor of Science in Management. She also has a Master of Business Administration, with an emphasis in Human Resources Management, from Keller Graduate School of Management.

Outside of NLU, Melanie is a mother of four, Christopher, Chelsea, Chase and Chandler, and one grandchild, Chamiya. She enjoys family time, traveling, music and shopping. She sings soprano in her church choir and volunteers as the Financial Secretary to the organization. 

Taylor Soto
Taylor Soto, Operations Coordinator [+]

Taylor is the Undergraduate Operations Coordinator for Pathways at NLU. In this position she coordinates various support activities along with daily operations. Before coming to National Louis, she was a member of the Global Engagement team at DePaul University. Having been a life-long student herself, Taylor is committed to working with students to provide them the best educational experience as possible and working towards making higher education accessible to all.

Taylor received her Master of Arts in International Studies from DePaul University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts from Bradley University, where she studied Political Science, Religious Studies, and Economics.

Outside of work, Taylor can be found curling up with a good book. She also loves animals, travelling, and going to concerts. 

Enrollment Specialist
Art Gonzalez, Enrollment Specialist [+]

Art began his career at NLU in the office of Student Finance. There he worked with students as a financial aid counselor, processed FAFSA’s and resolved verification issues. Prior to NLU, Art worked in financial aid at Career Education Corporation and was a Graduate Advisor at Western Illinois University.

Art received his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Western Illinois University and has all but thesis for his Master’s in Sociology. Art joined the Pathways team in May 2017. At that time, Art expressed “I am excited to join the Pathways team, because I am going to be a part of a movement that will make a positive impact on students’ lives and in our communities. I am also looking forward to fostering our students’ academic and personal growth, and seeing their development inspire others to achieve their goals”.

Enrollment Specialist, Pathways
Shae'Von Huerta, Enrollment Specialist [+]

Shae'Von is a former California native who turned in her flip-flops for scarfs and awesome Chicago seasons (even winter). She joined the Pathways team fresh from working as a recruiter in downtown Chicago. Looking to help students understand that the choices they make now help shape the future they’re hoping to attain.

Enrollment Specialist, Pathways
Rebecca Laird, Enrollment Specialist [+]

Rebecca has joined the Pathways team after earning her Bachelor's degree in Public Relations, Spanish and Theatre Arts at Bradley University. She has three years of experience working in admissions at Bradley University as well as public relations and social media experience working with the Alzheimer's Association and Chicago Auto Trade Association.

In her free time, Rebecca loves to watch and perform in theatre productions and travel to new places. She spent 5 months in 2015 studying in Granada, Spain where she learned to speak Spanish and found a passion for exploring diverse cultures. Rebecca is thrilled to bring her background to NLU and help students dream big and fulfill their academic potential!

Professor, Pathways
Rachel Petchenik, Outreach Specialist [+]

Rachel has joined our team as the Outreach Development Specialist for the Wheeling campus. Rachel comes to NLU from Cristo Rey St. Martin in Waukegan, a school committed to providing a rigorous, college preparatory education to students of limited economic means. There, she was a College and Guidance Counselor and provided comprehensive post-high school planning services. She supported students throughout the college application process, resulting in 100% of her senior students enrolling in higher education. She was very supportive of the Pathways program as a counselor and is excited to join the Wheeling team to continue and expand our outreach efforts.

Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Illinois State University. She then went to the University of Illinois at Chicago where she received her master’s degree in social work with a school concentration. Rachel feels that working in higher education allows her to focus solely on what she enjoys most – helping students find a place where they can reach their full potential.

Enrollment Specialist, Pathways
Michelle Petersen, Enrollment Specialist [+]

Michelle earned her bachelor's degree in Spanish and Education and was awarded a U.S. Fulbright grant by the U.S. Department of State to teach English at the collegiate level in Brazil, where she lived for most of 2014.

She is currently working on her M.Ed. in International Higher Education through Loyola University with an expected graduation date of July 2016. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and is learning French.

During its inaugural year, the Pathways program at NLU is working with a variety of organizations including Chicago Public Schools, OneGoal (a national organization that partners with higher education for student success) and Network for College Success at the University of Chicago.


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
    Info » | Directions »