About Us

Professional Staff



Carolina Nutt

Carolina's Biography

Responsibilities: In my role I provide guidance for the day-to-day operations of the department including: the planning and assessment of programs, analysis and assessment of data related to new student success, oversight of the budget, and evaluation of new student needs in order to develop programs and resources to align with those needs. Additionally, I oversee the collaborative campus-wide initiatives of the undergraduate student experience program which includes first- and second-year experiences and transfer student success.

M.Ed., University of South Carolina, Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration

B.A., Florida State University, Political Science and Sociology

Hometown: Orlando, Florida / Bogota, Colombia

Fun Fact: I enjoy cooking and baking, as well as exploring new cities.

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: Being able to work with all the first-year students who are so eager to get involved on campus and make an impact in the community.

Meredith Mechanik

Program Coordinator – First and Second Year

Meredith's Biography

Responsibilities:  I oversee the first- and second-year programs, supervising peer coaches and coordinating events for freshmen and sophomores. Some of my favorite programs include First-Year Convocation and Peer Coach Reveal. I also support our peer coaches as they lead the Network, a program that helps students connect to others who share an interest or hobby. 

M.Ed., The University of Texas at Austin, Higher Education Leadership and Policy

B.A., Duke University, Psychology and Theater Studies

Hometown: Tampa, FL

Fun Fact: Memoirs are my favorite – I’ve read over 125 since graduating college!

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: Being part of a close-knit, collaborative community where I have the opportunity to build relationships with so many incredible students.

Antonia Robinson
3rd & 4th Year Student Success Advocate

Antonia's Biography

Responsibilities: My responsibilities are to assist with the holistic needs (academic, career, personal) of third and fourth-year students through mentoring/coaching, providing support, connecting them to resources, and much, much more.

M.Ed., University of North Florida, Educational Leadership: Higher Education Administration
B.S., University of Florida, Journalism

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Fun Fact: I have a tortoiseshell, polydactyl (aka Hemmingway) cat. Her name is Wicket because she looks like the Ewok from Star Wars.

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of amazing students who are so close to graduation through collaboration with so many wonderful people on campus.

 Sammie Hillstock
Graduate Assistant- Transfer Programs

Sammie's Biography

Responsibilities: I work with the Transfer Programs Coordinator and COMPASS team to provide programming and support for incoming, transfer, and continuing students. I assist with the supervision and implementation of the Peer Networks events and National Transfer Student Week. I also update the Transfer Times Newsletter.

M.Ed. Candidate, University of South Florida - College Student Affairs
B.S., Kansas State University - Family Studies & Human Services

Minor, Conflict Analysis & Trauma Studies

Certificate, Conflict Resolution

Hometown: Manhattan, Kansas

Fun Fact: I can speak fluent German! I also love cats and traveling.

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: The sense of community at the St. Petersburg campus! The views are a big plus 😊


Brandi Arnold
Assistant Director

Brandi's Biography

Responsibilities: As Assistant Director, oversee the first, second, and transfer experience. I provide insight and direction on the peer coaching program and events for each experience. Additionally, I provide support for student experience services and initiatives at the institution.

M.Ed., University of Florida, Student Personnel in Higher Education
B.A., University of South Florida, Communication Studies – Relational

Hometown: Mount Dora, Florida

Fun Fact: I love to read and try new food!

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: Working with amazing students who want to better and further the mission of the university!

Brenna Whitton

Transfer Programs Coordinator

Brenna's Biography

Responsibilities: As the Transfer Programs Coordinator, I manage & supervise the COMPASS Transfer Program and Peer Coaches. I also assist in planning Week of Welcome, Signature Transfer Programs and National Transfer Week. I seek to create a supportive, welcoming, and inclusive environment for our transfer students while being an ally throughout their transition to USF St. Petersburg campus.  

M.S., Mississippi State University, Educational Leadership – Student Affairs & Higher Education 
B.A., University of Connecticut, Psychology, Human Development & Family Studies 

Hometown: Newtown, CT 

Fun Fact: I love finding new music & traveling (and especially love finding new music from traveling!).  

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: Although I am new to USF St. Petersburg campus, I have already experienced a great deal of support from the friendly & caring staff. I am SO excited to meet students, build relationships, and contribute to the welcoming culture of USF St. Petersburg campus.

 Amanda Vasquez
1st & 2nd Year Student Success Advocate

Amanda's Biography

Responsibilities: My responsibilities are to guide first and second-year students as they navigate the campus community. I will guide students through coaching, providing resources, and initiating cross-campus connections.  

M.Ed., University of South Florida, College Student Affairs 
B.S., University of South Florida St. Pete, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences   

Hometown: Tampa, Florida 

Fun Fact: I recently started playing video games! I play mostly open-world RPGs including all of the Elder Scrolls games.  

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: Being able to connect with students on a level that is not possible on larger campuses. Also, the opportunity to collaborate with so many wonderful campus partners and faculty members!  

 Rita Zwiefel
Graduate Assistant- Second-Year Programs

Rita's Biography

Responsibilities: As the graduate assistant for the Second Year program, I oversee the Peer Coaches! I also assist in the planning and implementation of various programs for the second year students on the USF St. Peter campus, including ones through the Network.

Education: B.A., Florida International University - Spanish and International Relations

Hometown: Pleasanton, California 

Fun Fact: I lived in Mexico for a month with a host family in high school! 

Favorite Part of USF St. Petersburg campus: I feel like I get the best of both worlds by getting to work on the USF St. Pete campus, and go to class at USF Tampa! I am so excited and grateful to be a part of this wonderful community for the next two years. 





USF Tampa Campus
Meet the New Student Connections and Parent and Family Engagement team. These teams provide programs and services to students enrolled on the Tampa campus, and their families.

USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus
Meet the Department of Student Support team who provides programs and services to students enrolled on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, and their families.