The Team

  • Full-Time Staff

  • LaToya Adkins - Clinical Social Worker

    LaToya believes that all students can succeed and be productive and contributing members of society if given the proper support. As both a former student and employee of a college access program, she sees the value in programs such as Student U. LaToya is the oldest of 7 siblings, which inspired her love and appreciation for mentoring students. Originally from Wisconsin, LaToya graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW). In her hometown of Milwaukee, she was a Bilingual School Social Worker, working with struggling families disadvantaged by language and cultural barriers. In her free time, she enjoys community organizing, hot yoga, reading, exercising, juicing/cooking and writing poetry.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 207

    Referral Forms:

    Student Self-Referral Form

    Student U Confidential Social Worker Referral

    Un Formulario de Referencia Confidencial para la Trabajadora Social

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Elena Dalsimer - Business Assistant

    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, she is studying to be a yoga teacher.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 210
  • 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
  • Holly Guss - College Adviser

    Holly Guss comes to the College Adviser role with almost 20 years of experience in the education field. In addition to working with Student U as a High School Advocate at Northern High School, she has worked as a teacher, college career counselor, career development coordinator, and a middle and high school counselor. She is committed to helping students discover their passions and achieve their goals. Holly grew up in Florida but fell in love with Durham after coming to North Carolina to attend Duke University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in public policy studies. She also holds a master's degree in counseling from North Carolina Central University. In her free time, Holly enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her four dogs. She also loves to read and volunteers at the Animal Protection Society of Durham.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext 208
  • Malaika Hankins - Middle School Program Coordinator

    Malaika believes in the transformative power of community and student voice in making Durham's education system the best it can be. Malaika graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2015 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and licensure to teach high school Biology. Originally from New Orleans, she knew since coming to UNC four years ago that she wanted to be involved in education and education reform. Malaika has held several positions at Student U since 2013, including 8th Grade Science Teacher, 7th Grade Science Teacher, 7th Grade Grade Head, Education Specialist, and Family Head during the inaugural year of the after-school program. Malaika is now a full-time team member as a Middle School Program Coordinator.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 214
  • Daysi Hurtado- High School Program Coordinator

    Daysi believes in the positive effects of an active community in students lives, helping them find their identity and reaching their goals. Being a first generation Latina college student, she has seen firsthand how having a supportive community can continuously challenge and encourage someone to become better everyday. She graduated from NC State with a degree in Fashion and Textile Management in 2013. After graduation, she supported the Latino community in Sampson County, NC through a college access program. In her spare time she enjoys exploring different creative outlets which currently include jewelry making, hand lettering, and painting.

    Phone: (919)267-3958 ext 200
  • Dan Kimberg - Founder and Advancement Director

    Dan Kimberg collaborated with the Durham community to create Student U in 2005 as a Robertson Scholar at Duke University. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Duke in a major he designed, Advocating for Educational Reform in Policy and Practice, he became the inaugural Executive Director of Student U. Currently, Dan serves on the Board of Directors of 3DWomen and Book Harvest. In 2012, Dan wrote Sam’s School, a book that connects Student U’s core values to the life of his grandfather, Sam. In 2010, Dan married Amanda Dorsey, co-founder of Student U, whom he met while an undergraduate at Duke.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 201
  • 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

    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
  • 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
  • Amy Salo - Chief Operating Officer

    Amy believes that strong mentorship is the key to successful decision making within education. 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 spending time with her high school sweetheart and now husband, Daniel, and calligraphing wedding invitations. Amy has worked at Student U as a 6th grade English teacher, a Business Intern, and is now the Business Director.

    phone: 919-267-3958 ext. 205
  • Elise Sharpe - Development Associate

    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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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