Meet the Team

The members of our academic support staff have been carefully selected for their investment in student-athletes, their enthusiasm about education and their skill in establishing effective relationships among students, coaches, and faculty.
Every day, our team carries out Temple's mission to provide superior academic, personal and professional guidance to all Temple student-athletes.
It is the impeccable quality and unparalleled caliber of our staff that sets us apart from other academic advisory programs and makes us not only the largest academic support department in the American Athletic Conference but-in our humble opinion-also the best.
Most of our staff members have been student-athletes themselves, and they have worked or played-or sometimes both-at the following institutions:
• Temple University
• Penn State University
• Southern Methodist University
• University of Central Florida
• University of South Florida
• Northwestern University
• University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
• North Carolina State University
• Rutgers University
• Syracuse University
• Arizona State University
• Florida Atlantic University
• University of Tennessee
• Johns Hopkins University


Justin Miller
Senior Director
Nancy & Donald Resnick Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes
jsm@temple.edu

Justin holds a bachelor's degree from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., and master's degrees in business administration and sport business management. During his graduate  studies, he served as the Research Coordinator for the 2004-5 Racial Gender Report Card and worked with the National Football League Players' Association in Washington, D.C. He has  also worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass.

Justin, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., joined Temple University as the Senior Director of the Resnick Center in 2010 after serving for five years as Assistant Director at the University of South Florida's Academic Advising and Support Center.
Justin lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Mary and sons, Wesley and Cash.

 


Tara Evans
Associate Director
Men's Basketball, Women's Soccer and Field Hockey
215-204-2514
tara.evans@temple.edu

Tara Evans joined the Nancy & Donald Resnikc Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes as a Senior Advisor in August 2014.  Prior to her arrival in the Resnick Center, Tara served as the Counselor Coordinator at Temple's Russell Conwell Learning Center.
Evans was a student-athlete at Syracuse University where she earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology, while competing on Syracuse's Swimming & Diving Team.  Following her time in upstate New York, Tara earned her master's from Springfield College in Counseling and Psychological Services with a specialization in Athletic Counseling.
Joining the Resnick Center staff marks Tara's return to working with student-athletes after having worked in similar capacities at Villanova University and Florida Atlantic University.  During her career as an athletics advisor Tara has worked with numerous different teams and coordinated various support serivces, culminated by her being named the Associate Director at FAU while working with the men's and women's basketball and football programs.
Tara has two daughters named Morgan and Taylor.

 


Da'Mon Merkerson
Assistant Director
Football, Fencing
215-204-9841
DaMon.Merkerson@temple.edu

Da'Mon Merkerson joined the Resnick Center as an Academic Advisor in August, 2014, and was promoted to Assistant Director in September, 2017. In his new role, he provides leadership for the academic support services for Temple football, overseeing the staff to ensure student-athletes are maximizing their time on campus. He also continues to serve Temple fencing and act as the liaison to Temple’s Career Center, collaborating to deliver the Verified Program.  Prior to Temple, Merkerson's experience includes working at Lindenwood University as an academic support graduate assistant. He also spent time at Arizona State University as an academic mentor.

Merkerson played football and ran track at Syracuse University, where he double-majored in sociology and communication & rhetorical studies. He later completed his master's degree in education at Arizona State. Merkerson participated in the 2011 Arizona Cardinals (NFL) training camp and went on to play for the Arizona Rattlers (AFL) in 2012 and 2013.

 

Paris Williams
Senior Learning Specialist
LEAD Program, Tutor Coordinator
215-204-4591
paris.williams@temple.edu

Prior to her work in the Resnick Center, Paris was a four-year member of Temple's track and field team, graduating in 2011 with a degree in social work. During that time, she was a multiple time Atlantic-10 Conference champion. She became a graduate assistant at the Resnick Center in the fall of 2012 and then was promoted to a full time Learning Specialist in November, 2013. Paris, originally from Maryland, recently completed her master's degree in Social Work at Temple and has been a phenomenal resource for the Owls.
"My most rewarding experience at the Resnick Center has been watching all of my students develop as learners and young adults. It has been rewarding to see the students trust our office and buy into the services we provide. Nothing beats seeing my students work their hardest and be proud of their accomplishments!"

Alyssa Drachslin
Coordinator for Leadership and Professional Development
215-204-6043
Alyssa.Drachslin@temple.edu

Alyssa returned to Temple to join the Rensick Center in February 2018. As a former Owl, Alyssa competed on Temple Women's Volleyball Team from 2012-2016. While at Temple she earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science and a master's in Globalization and Development Communication. After graduating, to combine her passion for sports and international development, Alyssa worked for Student-Athletes Abroad. During her time at Student-Athletes Abroad, she focused on creating international internship and study abroad opportunities for student-athletes primarily in Costa Rica, South Africa, and Spain. 
From Riverside, California, Alyssa will be focused on leadership and career development for all student-athletes.

 

Nick Plack
Senior Advisor
Women’s Indoor/Outdoor Track, Men and Women's Cross Country, Men’s Golf, Men and Women’s Tennis and Volleyball
215-204-7413
nplack@temple.edu

Nick began his career as a Nittany Lion, receiving his bachelor's degree in human development and family studies from Penn State. While matriculating, he also earned Academic Big-Ten honors as a high jumper and triple jumper. Upon graduation, Nick took on a graduate assistant-ship at Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes, where he earned a M.Ed. in higher education and administration.
Before arriving at Temple, Nick worked at Southern Methodist University, overseeing the football, women's basketball and volleyball teams.
In his free time, Nick loves spending time with his daughter, Jasmine, running, playing basketball, riding his road bike, and reading novels.
"My most rewarding experience working at the Resnick Center is being able to develop relationships with the student-athletes and watch their progression as a freshman all the way to graduation. I also enjoy trying to support each athlete in their academic and personal goals and finding paths to become successful in their career after Temple."


Reid Vanderlinden
Academic Advisor II
Football, Women's Soccer
215-204-9346
reid.vanderlinden@temple.edu

Reid Vanderlinden joined the Resnick Center staff in the summer of 2015 after serving for two years as an academic support graduate assistant with the Penn State University football program, earning his M.Ed in Higher Education Administration.  A State College, Pennsylvania native, Reid is a 2013 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science while playing defensive back for the football team.  Currently, Reid works with football team's offensive upperclassmen.
"My greatest motivation at Temple is to continue to build on the pattern of academic excellence that our students and staff work so hard to achieve.  Watching our student-athletes grow as individuals and leave with degrees and high hopes is the rewarding experience that I work towards every day."


Irie Dennis
Academic Advisor II
Football & Women's Basketball
215-204-9623
irie.dennis@temple.edu

Irie Dennis joined the Resnick Center Team as an academic advisor in September 2015.  Irie, a native of Columbus, Ohio, received her B.S. from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  During her time at Grand Valley Irie was a four-year member of the Women’s Soccer team which culminated in winning a national championship in 2009 and was named NCAA Division II National Player of the year as a senior.  Irie then went on to receive her M.Ed from University of South Florida in College Student Affairs.
Prior to joining the Owls, Irie completed an internship with Academic Services for Student-Athletes at the University of Central Florida and most recently served as a graduate assistant counselor in Student Support Services at the University of South Florida.

“I find it tremendously rewarding working in the Resnick Center where knowledge and skills are cultivated and shared. I am fully invested in making a difference in the lives of the student-student athletes I work with.  Watching student-athletes reach that ‘aha!’ moment is one of my most gratifying experiences while working in the Resnick Center.”

Tori Perri
Academic Advisor II
Men’s Soccer, Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Rowing
215-204-4966
victoria.perri@temple.edu


Tori Perri joined the Resnick Center in the fall of 2017 from Penn State University where she served as an Athletic Academic Counselor in the Morgan Center. Tori earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and master’s in Higher Education while competing on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams as a Nittany Lion. After graduating, Tori continued with Penn State in their academic support department before transitioning to her hometown of Philadelphia, PA to join Temple’s Resnick Center staff. Tori currently works with the Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Rowing and Men’s Soccer teams.

Erika Devaughn
Academic Advisor
Football & Women's Gymnastics
215-204-8415
erika.devaughn@temple.edu

Erika DeVaughn comes to Temple from Stony Brook University, where she spent two years as an Academic Advisor and Tutor Coordinator. Her primary responsibilities were with the softball and track & field teams at Stony Brook.  Erika earned her B.A. from Samford University in 2013 where she was a member of the women's volleyball team.

After graduating, DeVaughn earned her Master's degree in Sport Management from Florida A&M University while working as a graduate assistant in athletics from 2013-14. From 2014-15 Erika was an assistant for Student-Athlete Support Services at the University of Cincinnati.  Currently, Erika works with the women's gymnastics team, the defensive backfield of the football team.

Kelsey Simpson
Academic Advisor
Men’s Basketball
Kelsey.Simpson@temple.edu

Kelsey Simpson joined the Resnick Center Team as an associate academic advisor in June 2018. Kelsey, a native of Kentucky, earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Sports Business at Northern Kentucky University while competing on the women’s basketball team for four years as a Norse. She then went on to receive her M.S. in Sport Business from Temple University. Prior to joining the Resnick Center full-time, Kelsey served as an academic mentor for two semesters and most recently completed a semester-long internship with the Resnick Center during Spring 2018. Kelsey currently assists with Men’s Basketball.

 

Kate Cappetta
Learning Specialist, Tutoring Program
LEAD Program
215-204-3119
katherine.cappetta@temple.edu

Kate joined the Resnick Center in May of 2016 as a Learning Specialist part-time and came on board full-time in March of 2017. Prior to joining the team she earned a bachelors degree in Politics from The Catholic University in Washington D.C. and worked in corporate hospitality while living in San Francisco. In 2006 Kate relocated to Philadelphia where she earned a master's degree in education from Chestnut Hill College. Education and academic support have remained her focus and passion for over a decade. Kate has worked to create positive and supportive learning environments for students as they explore their interests and achieve their goals and was recently recognized with the Lindback Foundation's Distinguished Teaching Award."The best part about working at the Resnick Center is seeing our students gain confidence and build success through their determination both in and out of the classroom."

Taylor Gillie

Learning Specialist, Tutoring Program

LEAD Program

215-204-8581

taylor.gillie@temple.edu


Taylor Gillie joined the Resnick Center as a Learning Specialist in July 2017. Prior, she worked as an assistant academic advisor for men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, and women’s soccer in Academic Services for Student-Athletes (ASSA) at the University of Central Florida while earning a master’s in Educational Leadership/Higher Education & Policy Studies.
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Taylor competed on the volleyball team at Stony Brook University while completing her bachelor’s in Anthropology and Sociology in 2015.
“My goal is to provide student-athletes with a supportive environment where they can build confidence in the classroom that will translate to even more success in their sport.”

Cheryl Cummings
Administrative Assistant
215-204-9002
cherylc@temple.edu