Meet the Mentors Who Can Partner with You on Your Path to College Success
We’ve assembled a team of Mentors that know exactly what you are going through, because they’ve traveled the same road you are traveling. They are our CSP Mentors, and they are ready to provide support, advice, encouragement, and a listening ear on the topics and situations you will encounter as a college student and as you begin your professional career.
Education: BA in History and BA in Mathematics from Binghamton University; MS in Information Science from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Amanda works as a young adult librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. While in college and graduate school, Amanda served in several leadership roles including Vice President of Academic Affairs of her student association at Binghamton and president of the Special Libraries Association at UNC. Outside of school, Amanda loves to cook, bake and read. She is a runner, and has recently began competing in triathlons. Although blindness is a large component of her life, she has always strived not to make it the most memorable part of her identity but rather thinks of it as a unique way to perceive the world.
In addition to mentoring students, Amanda leads the CSP Monthly Book Club on the last Monday of each month.
Education: BFA from the New School; MSW from New York University
Anthony was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. He lived with both of his parents and always found himself in trouble as an adolescent. He attended 5 high schools in the greater nyc area before dropping out at the age of 17 and getting his GED. Growing up, Anthony knew the value of hard work. The day after his 8th grade graduation, he began working in McDonald’s with his father on the weekends and always held on to a job throughout high school and beyond. In the summer of 2008, he was the victim of a shooting that resulted in the loss of his vision. After problems with his family and nowhere else to turn, Anthony moved into a homeless shelter. While residing in the shelter, Anthony was introduced to his mentor. He credits this relationship with changing the entire trajectory of his life.
Since graduating from his social work program, Anthony has held a number of positions in the workforce such as the social worker for young men of color at the Kings’ County District Attorneys’ Office in Brooklyn, New York from 2016 to 2018 and a Recovery Specialist with Community Access from 2019 to 2020. After leaving Community Access, Anthony relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota with his girlfriend where he works as a therapist for offenders of sex crimes. When Anthony is not working, he often participates in multi-sport endurance competitions which has afforded him the opportunity to travel to over 6 countries and half of the United States. As a social worker, Anthony strives to be an advocate for the underserved and help people navigate the many hardships they may endure on a daily basis.
Education: BA in Psychology and English from Winthrop University; MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Winthrop University
Although she grew up in South Carolina, Brianna relocated to New Jersey in 2019 to pursue her passion of working with students with disabilities. Along with working as a mentor for several years, Brianna directs a pre-employment program for blind and visually impaired high school and college students called Project RISE. She has experienced varying degrees of vision from birth due to LCA (Lieber’s Congenital Amaurosis).
In her spare time, Brianna enjoys reading, writing, playing with her retired guide dog, Hopps, and her working seeing eye dog, Quebec. She also enjoys helping others. She utilizes her life experiences, both positive and negative, to improve the educational opportunities for current students with visual impairments.
Education: BA in English and Secondary Education from Manhattanville College; MSW from Stony Brook University.
Caitlin is a social worker in Southwest Connecticut. Currently, she works providing counseling, referrals and support to individuals navigating Connecticut’s court system. As a social worker, she advocates for equality, listens with patience, and believes in the inherent worth of all people. In her free time, she loves to read, write, and spend time with her amazing family and friends. Caitlin is excited to share her experiences, both good and bad, with the next generation of BVI leaders. Her favorite words are laugh, hope, and possibility.
For the CSP, in addition to mentoring students, Caitlin facilitates one of the Mentor small groups.
Education: BS in Elementary Education and Psychology and a MAT in Special Education from The College of New Jersey; MS in Low Vision Rehabilitation from Salus University
Emily is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Salus University. Emily is certified in elementary education and special education in the state of New Jersey as well as a certified teacher of students with visual impairments in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They are also a certified low vision therapist through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP). Their areas of expertise include low vision rehabilitation and education of students with visual impairments. Born with a cataract in their left eye and later on diagnosed with glaucoma, Emily never let their visual impairment define their ability to succeed. In their free time, Emily enjoys hiking, being in nature, yoga and mindfulness, exploring, reading, singing and performing, and making art.
Education: BA in Psychology from Dowling College
Glenn works as a web accessibility coordinator and lives in New York. While he doesn’t see blindness as a barrier, he recognizes that no two people experience life the same way.
In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading and playing the guitar. He is looking forward to sharing his experiences, both as a student and as a university administrator, with the College Success Program.
For the CSP, in addition to mentoring his own students, Glenn facilitates one of the Mentor small groups as well as the weekly Meetups.
Education: BS in Business Administration from Drexel University
Kinzey lives his life with the mindset that his lack of vision should never hinder his personal or professionals growth. In college, while thriving in the classroom, Kinzey undertook 3 paid internships, spanning market research, communications, and enterprise marketing. He also served as President of Drexel’s Rotary Interact Club, focusing on civic engagement throughout Philadelphia. Kinzey is currently a client relations associate at Vanguard Investment Group.
In his free time, Kinzey enjoys long distance running with Achilles International, an organization that provides guides for athletes with disabilities. He also enjoys pulling for any Philadelphia sports team, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Education: BS in Integrative Health Care from Metropolitan State University of Denver, LMT Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks
Lily was born in a small town in Russia. She was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer called retina blastoma at age two. She and her mother immigrated to the United States so that she could receive better medical treatment. She currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and works as a massage therapist. She enjoys being a resource for mentees and loves to see each student grow into a well-rounded beautiful individual. Some of her hobbies include swimming, reading, meeting new people and listening to country music.
Education: BS in Marine Biology from University of Rhode Island; MS in Biology from Walawala University; currently pursuing a PhD in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University
Maureen’s doctorate research focuses on learning more about the impacts of plastic pollution on Texas beaches and marine life. Maureen was born with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and has no vision in her right eye and is legally blind in her left eye.
In her free time, Maureen enjoys playing her trombone in both symphonic band and orchestra ensembles, going scuba diving on the weekends, and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to share her experiences with blind students in higher education and to empower the next generation of blind persons pursuing stem careers.
Education: BSW from the University of Texas at Austin
Meagan works as a vocational rehab teacher with the Texas workforce commission. In her free time she likes to read, hike, camp, and spend time with friends and family.
Meagan likes to think of herself as a woman who just happens to be blind, not just a blind woman. Blindness has been a part of her life since she was 16, but she believes it is a very small part of who she is and works hard not to let it get in her way or stop her from accomplishing all her goals in life. She lives with her black lab, Rayven, husky, Domino, and her fiancé in Austin, Texas. One of her missions in life is to pass along valuable knowledge about living life in a sighted world as a happy, fulfilled member of society.
Education: BA in English, Spanish and French from Manhattanville College; MA in Language and Literacy from the City College of New York
Megan is an advocate, a perpetual learner, teacher, cook and technology enthusiast who loves to read and write. She currently works as an Accessibility Specialist. College is often a time of challenge, transition and joyful exploration. Megan enjoys being a part of the College Success Program and supporting students through their journeys in higher education.
For the CSP, in addition to mentoring students, Megan facilitates one of the Mentor small groups.
Education: BA in Public Relations and Creative Writing from Ball State University; MA in Emerging Media Design and Development from Ball State University
Preston is an Accessibility Specialist at Zoom. Additionally, he is an adjunct lecturer within the School of Communications & Information at Rutgers University. Advocacy and equity are the driving passions behind his life and work. Preston’s passions include digital equity, service dog advocacy and improving independence throughout the disabled world. In his spare time, Preston enjoys trying new foods, listening to records, and exploring new places with his seeing eye dog, Burton.
For the CSP, in addition to mentoring students, Preston facilitates one of the Mentor small groups.
Education: BM in vocal performance and composition from CSU Stanislaus; MM in music performance and theory pedagogy from Peabody Conservatory
Rachel is from Modesto, California. She is currently teaching music at the Modesto Academy of Music and Design and Gottschalk Music Center, as well as performing freelance. Rachel is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and Py Kappa Lambda.
For the CSP, in addition to mentoring students, Rachel co-hosts our podcast, College Knowledge, facilitates one of the Mentor small groups as well as the weekly Meetups.
Education: BM in music education (choral/voice) from Columbus State University
Rashad Jones is a native of Columbus, Georgia (where he currently resides), and is the 2nd oldest of 4 siblings. As a self-proclaimed people person, Rashad can often be found enjoying a nice conversation with close friends and family members, while relaxing in the comfort of his home. He enjoys attending church where he serves as minister of music, traveling, interacting with people, and helping others whenever possible!
For the CSP, in addition to mentoring students, Rashad co-hosts our podcast, College Knowledge.
Sam Van der Swaagh
Education: BA in unique and interdisciplinary studies from City University of New York
Sam grew up in NYC in the West Village with his large family of 2 sisters and 3 brothers. He was homeschooled through high school along with his siblings by his outstanding parents. Sam has experience in tutoring college freshmen and sophomore level courses such as stats, biology and chemistry.
Although Sam’s major during college was applied psychology and neuroscience, he is currently pursuing a career in textile design. His interests were radically changed! If Sam is not “in the studio” weaving carpets and fine fabrics, he spends his free time swing dancing, training for long distance runs with friends or experimenting with origami. Sam’s artistic passions are certainly bolstered by his visual impairment that drives him toward tactile forms of expression and affords him a unique perception of the world. Sam’s visual condition consists of albinism, nystagmus and astigmatism. He is a large print reader yet often prefers listening to audiobooks or utilizing speech-to-text options. Sam also enjoys talking about the latest science and technology.
Education: BS in Child Studies with Minors in Special Education and Sociology and an M.Ed. in Human Development Counseling (specialization in school counseling) from Vanderbilt University
Stephanie grew up in New Jersey and is the oldest of four siblings. Her passion is working with children and animals. She lives in Colorado with her husband, current seeing eye dog, retired guide dog, and two cats. She works as an elementary school counselor. She absolutely loves to exercise! She recently tandem cycled for world championships in Milton, Canada, where she and her pilot represented the U.S. and won a bronze medal in the sprints. She also enjoys running and ran the New York City and Boston marathons with Achilles International Nashville. She has her junior and senior black belts in white tiger kempo and she has been boxing since the age of ten. She believes that education and advocacy are the key ingredients for a successful college experience.