Full-Time Team

  • Full-Time Staff

  • Casey Barr-Rios - Executive Assistant

    Casey believes that all students should own their best selves and share their brilliance. Casey joined our Student U team as a part-time receptionist at our Year Round program last fall. She will begin to pursue a psychology degree at North Carolina Central University this fall. Casey joined our full-time staff as the Executive Assistant and is excited to begin the transition from student to staff member at Student U.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext 209
    email: casey.barr-rios@studentudurham.org
  • Derrick Beasley - College Success Coordinator

    Derrick believes in every individual's ability to manifest their greatest dreams for themselves. He also recognizes the inequitable institutional and systemic forces that makes bringing these dreams to life more challenging for some than others. Derrick has a background of community organizing around education and has worked in the non profit arena in varying capacities over the last 7 years. Derrick received his bachelors degree in Sociology from North Carolina A&T State University in 2008 and his Masters of Public Administration from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in 2010. Derrick was also a 2011 New Voices for Civic Engagement Fellow with the Alliance for Children and Families. Derrick is a Durham native and is committed to social change in his hometown. He is committed to working towards making college graduation a reality for all students in Durham as the College Success Coordinator at Student U.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 217
    Email: derrick.beasley@studentudurham.org
  • Luke Carman - Middle School Coordinator

    Luke believes in the power of educational communities to act as engines for social equity. As a graduate of the Rochester City School District in upstate New York, and as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools, Luke has spent the majority of his life in public school classrooms. Luke graduated from the University of Chicago in 2009 with a BA in Sociology, and then again in 2011 from UChicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program with a Master’s in Elementary Education. He spent the next 6 years as a middle school math teacher in both charter and neighborhood public schools, as a mentor teacher for teachers in training as well as working as a teacher in another college access program in Chicago in the summer. While relishing his classroom role, Luke was excited at the opportunity to move to Durham and work with an organization that reaches students, families, communities, and schools across the city, while also spending time every day with middle schoolers. In his spare time, Luke loves playing and watching soccer, and spending time with his wife Andi, cooking, traveling, watching movies and hanging with their two cats.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 214
    Email: luke.carman@studentudurham.org
  • Elena Dalsimer - Finance and HR Manager

    Elena believes in the power of education to transform and energize all people. Prior to Student U, Elena worked on a congressional campaign with an intent focus on promoting public education in Indiana’s 4th district. Elena graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in Apparel Design from the Bryan School of Business. A month after graduation, she moved to New York City where she interned in a number of design studios and later became the Hiring Department Manager at Anthropologie in Chelsea Market. She is excited to return home and put her business and political experience to use at Student U as she serves as the Business Assistant. In her free time, Elena teaches yoga to our middle school girls.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 210
    Email: Elena.Dalsimer@studentudurham.org
  • Radhika Deshmukh-McDiarmid​ - Evaluations and Research Coordinator

    Radhika believes that thinking critically about our work as shown by the data we collect will drive us to better serve our students and families. ​Radhika ha ​s​ worked with Student U since 2008. ​She​ taught ​in​ the middle school summer program for three years and loved learning about our students, their families and the Durham community. After graduating from UNC in 2011, ​she​ joined Teach for America and taught middle school science at Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham and served as a middle school grade head for two summers in 2012 and 2013. ​When she's not collecting and analyzing data at Student U, Radhika enjoys working on her photography business with her husband, Ian, practicing yoga, and spending time with her cats and foster dog.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 212
    Email: radhika.deshmukh-mcdiarmid@studentudurham.org
  • Danielle Evans - Grants Administration Intern

    Danielle believes that students are the driving force of change and with the right tools, everyone can be successful. She is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill. Danielle has made her transition from Student U student to now working as the Grants Administration Intern.

    email: danielle.evans@studentuduram.org
  • Bianca Lambert - College Success Coordinator

    Originally from Raleigh, NC, Bianca earned her Bachelor's of Science in Psychology from UNC Charlotte in 2013. Post graduation, Bianca served in various student affairs roles at High Point University and NC State. After two years away from the classroom, she moved to Clemson, SC to continue her studies. In 2017, she earned her Master's in Counselor Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs from Clemson University. It was during her Master's program that she developed a passion for educational access, equity and success of underrepresented students. When not at Student U, Bianca can be found spending time with family and friends, traveling and enjoying the occasional Netflix binge.

    Email: bianca.lambert@studentudurham.org
  • Alex Lowe - Learning Specialist

    Alex believes that all students are uniquely gifted, immensely purposeful, and extraordinarily capable of changing their communities and world. Alex began developing her passion for education as an undergraduate in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education. As a student there, she worked frequently with students in Durham Public Schools and instantly fell in love with the city and people of Durham. After graduating with a degree in Elementary Education, Alex taught 4th grade for two years at Sandy Ridge Elementary School in Durham. Alex has worked at Student U as a 6th grade English teacher and 8th grade Grade Head, spent two years as the Middle School Program Coordinator, and is now Student U's Learning Specialist.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 206
    email: alex.lowe@studentudurham.org

    Referral Forms:

    Student U Confidential Learning Specialist Referral

    Referencia Confidencial a Especialista de Aprendizaje de Student U

    Learning Specialist Self Referral Form For Students

  • Brandy Luce - Communications Specialist

    Brandy believes that all students can succeed and make good decisions when supported by their community and are given the necessary tools and information. Originally from Nebraska, Brandy graduated from the University of Nebraska-Kearney with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication and Design. Upon graduation, she worked as a graphic designer in marketing and advertising until 2014 when she decided to go back to school. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a Master’s degree in Graphic Design where she researched how design can assist in advancing the communication and collaboration in education. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Brian, practicing photography and painting, and traveling. 

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 219
    email: brandy.luce@studentudurham.org
  • Haillee Mason - Development Associate

    Haillee believes that education is an important tool for self-empowerment. Before joining Student U, Haillee had experience with campus and community organizing and legal research. An avid thinker and academic, Haillee knows that education is integral to creating possibility. She graduated in December 2017 with bachelor degrees in Global Human Rights, Women's and Gender Studies, and African Diaspora Studies from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Haillee is excited to be in Durham and grateful to tell stories of Student U that empower, uplift, and center its students. When she isn't writing grants, Haillee enjoys international solo travel, biking, and reading the autobiographies of Black revolutionaries.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 218
    email: haillee.mason@studentudurham.org
  • Alyzia McAlmon - Communications Intern

    Alyzia believes that all students have the ability to be the positive change that they wish to see in their communities. She received her Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science from East Carolina University in May 2017. Alyzia has transitioned from a Student U student to now working as the Communications Intern.

    email: alyzia.mcalmon@studentudurham.org
  • Michelle Norwood - High School Program Coordinator

    Michelle believes that the success of our young generation depends largely on the unity of our community. Michelle graduated from North Carolina Central University as a Teaching Fellow with a degree in Mathematics and concentration in Secondary Education. She began working with Student U's summer program in 2009 and since then, has served as a Teacher, as a Grade Head, and as the Dean of Students. For the past three years, she been an educator at East Chapel Hill High School and continues to love and support her former students. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her amazing family, listening to music, and traveling.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 215
    Email: michelle.bridgers@studentudurham.org
  • Cameron Phillips - Operations Coordinator

    Cameron believes that commitment and collaboration can make a difference in the Durham community. Originally from Raleigh, Cameron graduated from North Carolina State University in 2012 with a degree in Agribusiness Management. Upon graduation, he worked in the sales and insurance fields but he longed for something in which he could use his business and management skills to create a better future for kids. He has always loved working with students and seeing all students succeed, so he decided to pursue a position that was related to this passion. During the 2014-2015 school year, Cameron was a Family Head in Student U’s Year Round Program. He thoroughly enjoyed that time at Student U, as it allowed him to develop a greater desire for social justice and equity in the education system, starting in Durham. He is excited to support all operations activities as a part of the full-time Student U team.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 204
    Email: cameron.phillips@studentudurham.org
  • Amy Salo - Chief Operating Officer

    Amy believes that in order for our community to reach it's full potential, all individuals must be given opportunities to reach theirs. Amy was born and raised in Charlotte, NC and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2014 with a degree in Business Administration. As a student, Amy was a founding member of UNC's chapter of Moneythink, mentoring Chapel Hill high school students in financial literacy. When she’s not at Student U, Amy enjoys being involved in local Durham politics, serving as a guardian ad litem in the Durham County court system, and spending time with her high school sweetheart and now husband, Daniel.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 205
    email: amy.salo@studentudurham.org
  • Elise Sharpe - Development Director

    Elise believes that loving one's neighbor is the basis for changing the world. After graduating from Duke University with a degree in Public Policy, Elise moved back to her home state of Texas to teach 7th grade History. During her third year of teaching, she designed and implemented the school's first middle school Humanities course. Upon returning to Durham in 2014, Elise joined The New Teacher Project where she worked on building sustainable teacher pipelines for high-needs school districts around the country. When she's not at Student U, Elise can be found chasing after her 5 precious nieces.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 220
    email: elise.sharpe@studentudurham.org
  • Bettina Umstead - Chief Program Officer, 21st Century Community Learning Center

    Bettina truly believes that every child can learn. This belief has led her to work in several different positions within the field of education including, with a private school and an education lobbying organization. Bettina graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Middle Grades Education. She has worked with Student U as a 7th grade Global Connect teacher, a Grade Head, and is now currently the Middle School Program Director. Bettina grew up in Raleigh, NC.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 202
    email: bettina.umstead@studentudurham.org
  • April Warren - Middle School Program Coordinator

    April believes that all children deserve the right to a quality education. ​In June 2015, April ​completed ​ two years as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools at Neal Middle School in Durham. While at Citizen Schools, April has been responsible for overseeing daily after-school programming, engaging with parents, and creating community-wide events. This experience further confirmed her passion for the city of Durham. Her professional focus ​ in​ educational equality began at Student U where she served as a 7th grade Science teacher and 6th grade Grade Head. April was born and raised in Charlotte, NC and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a major in Sociology and a minor in Education. April is thrilled to take on the role of Middle School Program Coordinator with Student U and return to this beloved community. In her free time, April enjoys spending time with her husband, Joss, playing soccer, and running.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 211
    Email: April.Warren@studentudurham.org
  • Alexandra Zagbayou - Executive Director

    As the child of a first generation college student, Alexandra believes education has the power to be a revolutionary agent for people and communities and a means to create a just and equitable world. To act on those beliefs, Alexandra has worked in partnerships with students, parents and the Durham community here at Student U for the past 7 years. Alexandra’s vision for the world is one where organizations like Student U no longer exist and every person is able to reach his or her full potential because our systems and institutions are just and equitable. Until that vision is reached, she is thankful to do work that is meaningful, urgent and necessary alongside an incredible personal and professional community.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 203
    email: alexandra.zagbayou@studentudurham.org