Academic Success Coaches at UD take a holistic approach to understanding and supporting each student as they develop strategies to achieve academic goals. We identify strengths, challenges, and beneficial resources along the way.

Our Academic Success Coaches are available for any undergraduate student requesting help. They have an additional focus on serving two specific groups of students identified by the University. These include our New Blues (selected entering freshmen) and STARs (Students Taking Academic Responsibility, students on probation).

New Blues are given support during their transition to the University in the following ways:

  • Participation in the summer Get Ready program for entering freshmen. In this program, they will begin working with their Academic Success Coach, who will serve as their instructor for UNIV167, Academic Self-Management. 
  • The Academic Success Coach also will teach their students’ First-Year Experience course (UNIV101) in the Fall semester. 
  • The Academic Success Coach will support and guide their students throughout the freshman year, helping with goal-setting and strengthening college-level time management and academic skills, connecting them with key resources as needed.

STARs  are assigned an Academic Success Coach at the beginning of their first semester on probation. The Academic Success Coach will assist in developing realistic, achievable goals and creating an academic success plan. They also will act as a mentor and will help students connect with other important resources.

Meet Our Academic Success Coaches

Joanna Martin portrait

Joanna Martin, M.S.

When the chance to use my knowledge of university structures, academic success, and student engagement came up I leaped at the chance to join the team! Working in the Office of Academic Enrichment allows me to do all of that and more. My own undergraduate experience went from trial to triumph, with the help of some incredible faculty and staff that were committed to seeing me become the best student possible. That experience inspired me to help other students by pursuing a career in higher education. Helping you navigate the thrilling but sometimes overwhelming college experience is my PASSION. So, think of me as your college tour guide ready to equip you with strategies and knowledge about the journey ahead. Now let’s get to work!


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”

– e.e. cummings

Emily Thayer portrait

Emily Thayer, M.A.

The first time you do anything new, there is a learning curve, and the college learning curve can be steep. Let me help you navigate! When you work with me, you will benefit not only from my own college experience and 12 years of working in higher education, but I can also share insights from the stories of countless other students that I have worked with in the past. Together, we will take a deep dive into your current academic approach, identify the areas we want to focus on together, set goals, and break them down into action steps. If something does not work, we will figure out why and try something new. My office is a judgment-free, comfortable space. I look forward to seeing you there!

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” 

-Arthur Ashe

Dawn Volpe portrait

Dawn Volpe, Ph.D., N.C.C.

Helping students at UD adjust to campus, connect to resources, and improve academic strategies to meet their academic goals is my dream job! Although it was quite a while ago, I remember that beginning at UD as a freshman was a mix of positives and challenges and I love being able to help students work through these experiences. As an Academic Success Coach here, I combine my interest in helping students with my past work as a school counselor and as an adjunct faculty member. I look forward to meeting you and helping you figure out your own strategies for learning and thriving throughout your time here!

“…love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

-Carol Dweck

Joanna Martin portrait

Lou Becht, Ed.D.

Teacher. Mentor. Advocate. These words best describe me and my time as an educator in high school and college. I enjoy helping students identify their strengths and make them stronger. I like helping students reflect on the things they need to improve on, strategizing methods that work best for them, and then seeing those deficits turn to strengths. We are all works in progress throughout our lives, and there is always work to be done. I am here to serve as a concierge for your college years, assisting where I can or steering you to those people and resources you need to succeed. Struggling and unsure how to overcome? Doing ok but striving to do better? Make an appointment and let’s chat!

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

– Kobe Bryant

Emily Thayer portrait

Amanda Brunson, Ed.D.

I remember my first job on a college campus: I was a student residence assistant. I can tell you that at first, I was absolutely terrified. I did not know what to expect, nor did I know what to do, but I did not let that stop me. I learned, and so can you! Since then I have had various roles across many different departments on quite a few campuses. It is like I never really left college. My love for what I do has grown as I’ve gone from being a student to a tutor to a teaching assistant to an instructor and now, to an Academic Success Coach. An Academic Success Coach is one who supports you, has your back, helps you dig deep to find what you need to do, and guides you on your educational journey. It’s ok to be terrified, but don’t let that stop you. Let me help you; let me advocate for you so that you can achieve what YOU want to do!

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

— Georgia O’Keeffe

Dawn Volpe portrait

Caitlin Gallagher, M.A.

Navigating the college landscape can present many challenges. Our job as Academic Success Coaches is to help you along your path, finding the right tools, strategies, and resources for your journey. With a background in high school and higher education, I have experience helping students transition and adjust to the academic demands of college. In our coaching sessions, I strive to provide caring and supportive guidance that will help you improve your study habits and academic performance. Through our conversations, we will work to identify and implement solutions to the challenges that you face and make a plan to help you reach your goals!

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.”

— James Clear