Ready to change the world? The Graduate Center helps you find opportunities to develop professional and leadership skills that complement your degree.

In Fall 2014, the University of Arizona Graduate Center opened its doors to provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows — as well as their programs — support that enhances their academic and professional success. The Graduate Center supports the next generation of researchers, academic professionals, and leaders by facilitating recruitment of distinguished graduate students, building opportunities for professional development and mentoring, and fostering interdisciplinary research, innovative collaboration, networking, and engagement with diverse communities.


The Graduate Center will assist University and Graduate College support for the next generation of researchers, creative and scholarly professionals, and other leaders by enhancing recruitment of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, offering professional development opportunities, and providing programs that foster interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

Goals and Objectives:

  • Recruit more graduate students to UArizona
  • Recruit the top graduate candidates to UArizona
  • Provide opportunities for professional development
  • Establish new funding opportunities including new fellowships for graduate students
  • Increase the diversity of the graduate student body
  • Improve retention of graduate students at UArizona
  • Establish an intellectual and physical locale to increase interdisciplinary collaborations among students
  • Provide a needed focal point for improving services to post-doctoral fellows at UArizona
  • Provide a new structure for establishing mentorship relationships outside of traditional academic advising

Graduate Center Staff:

Meg Lota Brown, Ph.D., Director of the Graduate Center

Portrait of Dr. Meg Lota Brown, Director of the UArizona Graduate Center

(Photo by John De Dios)

Meg Lota Brown is a Professor of English. She is the author or editor of four books and has published numerous articles on Reformation politics, Renaissance literature, science, art, theology, education, and authors from Shakespeare and Donne to Christine de Pizan and Rachel Speght. Dr. Brown has received nearly every UA major teaching award, as well as recognition for her research, service, and leadership. She is active on numerous graduate education committees, including the Graduate and Professional Student Council Advisory Board. As the Director for the Graduate Center, Meg Lota is guiding the development and awareness of resources to help graduate students augment their studies with professional development, skills workshops, and interdisciplinary interaction.

David Bradshaw, M.P.A., Assistant Director

 Portrait of David Bradshaw

(Photo by UAHS BioCommunications)

David Bradshaw is the Assistant Director for the Graduate Center. He is responsible for the daily management of the Graduate Center and for assisting the Director in the implementation of new initiatives for the center and the University Fellows program. David is a University of Arizona alumnus, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Management and Policy from the Eller College of Management and a Master of Public Administration from the School of Government and Public Policy. Prior to his work with the Graduate Center, David worked with the UArizona's Office of Sustainability and the City of Tucson implementing third party reporting and promoting sustainability initiatives, including the City of Tucson Green Business Certification Program, Project Pawprint, and the Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

Shelley Hawthorne Smith, Ph.D., Associate Director of The Graduate Center Fellowship Office and Associate Director of the Graduate Writing Lab, Assistant Professor, Graduate College

Portrait of Shelley Hawthorne Smith

Dr. Shelley Hawthorne Smith is an Assistant Professor of Practice who serves as the Associate Director of the Graduate Writing Lab and Graduate Center Office of Fellowships. Committed to supporting graduate students’ development as writers, she created and runs the Fellowship Application Development Programs for students applying for graduate level funding. She also supports graduate writers in Writing Efficiency Sessions and other programs. Dr. Hawthorne Smith earned an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English at the University of Arizona. She has taught community college courses and served as a volunteer in Peace Corps South Africa. When not at work, she enjoys riding bikes and playing games with her family, but she is also continually on the hunt for a quiet corner where she can eat dark chocolate or read a novel.

Shawn Nordell, Ph.D., Associate Director of Graduate Career Services and Assistant Professor, Graduate College

Portrait of Shawn Nordell

Dr. Shawn Nordell is the Associate Director of Graduate Career Services and an Assistant Professor of Practice.  She helps graduate students through all stages of the job search and application process, assisting them in self-assessment and career exploration, networking, and translating their transferable skills.  She is also committed to providing tailored career resources for units and departments. For three years, Dr. Nordell worked with graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the Career Center at Washington University in St. Louis, where she designed and administered career development programming, in addition to coaching and mentoring individual students.  She has worked as a faculty member in the Biology Department at Saint Louis University and in Teaching Centers at Brown University, Saint Louis University, and Washington University. Dr. Nordell is a proud UA alum with a B.S. in Animal Science and M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She completed her Ph.D. in Biology at the University of New Mexico. Aside from work, Shawn enjoys walking her dogs and cheering for Wildcat sports and her beloved Chicago Cubs.

Anesu Samuel Masango, M.D., Graduate Assistant, Communications and Outreach

Portrait of Anesu Samuel Masango

Anesu Samuel Masango (Sam) assists the Graduate Center with communication and outreach, including social media, program communications, and website content. Sam is a physician trained at the Odessa National Medical University in Ukraine, where he learned the Russian and Ukrainian languages and taught English as a second language. He has also worked for Teknoncopywriters as a copywriter, editor, and head project manager. Dr. Masango has been employed as a communications director, founded a drug awareness, mental health, and empowerment youth movement, and led a hospital building project in his home country of Zimbabwe. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Translational Sciences and is particularly interested in colorectal and GI cancer research. Sam enjoys sports, singing, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Luke Wink-Moran, Graduate Assistant, Newsletter and Student Engagement Writer

Portrait of Luke Wink-Moran

Luke Wink-Moran is the Graduate Center’s Newsletter and Student Engagement Writer; he researches and drafts articles for the Center’s newsletter and creates content focused on graduate student experiences in the UArizona community. Luke earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Eller College of Management, where he worked as a marketing and communications intern. He has also worked — in various capacities — for the Motion Picture Corporation of America, Barry Katz Entertainment, and, most recently, Vurbl Media, telling stories using multiple media. Luke is currently pursuing a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in digital journalism. He is especially interested in how to use evolving technology to bring stories to life in new and meaningful ways. Outside of work and school, Luke spends his time hiking with friends, listening to podcasts, and hoping that he will stumble across an independent bookstore at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Ivette Merced, Graduate Assistant, Career Consulting

Portrait of Ivette Merced

Ivette Merced assists the Graduate Center career staff in supporting graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to reach their career goals. She is a University Fellow, Arizona LEND Fellow in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities, and a Ph.D. student in Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies with a minor in School Psychology. 

Dong Chen, Graduate Assistant, Career Development

Dong Chen works with the Associate Director of Graduate Career Services to support graduate students
and postdoctoral scholars in their career development. Her particular focus is on preparing Ph.D.
students in humanities and humanistic social sciences for jobs in business, nonprofit, and government
sectors. Dong earned an M.A. in Global Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
where she worked as a Program Coordinator and Office Assistant at the International Student Services
office. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education. Dong’s research interests include student
learning and assessment, effective teaching and learning pedagogies, STEM education, and international
student success. Outside of work and school, Dong enjoys spending time with friends and family,
cooking, and watching sunsets.

Bethany Kasprzyk, Graduate Assistant, Fellowship Support

Portrait of Bethany Kasprzyk

Bethany Kasprzyk is a Graduate Assistant who supports writing, fellowship, and community engagement programming. She is a candidate for the Master of Public Administration and hopes to pursue a career in local government. Bethany attended the University of Texas at Dallas for her undergraduate degree in Economics, with minors in Public Affairs and Criminology. Her role in the Graduate Center is to facilitate graduate writing support programs and develop communication and outreach materials.

Connie Sun, Graduate Assistant, Graduate Writing Lab

Portrait of Connie Sun

Connie Sun supports the Graduate Writing Lab and other campus writing programs to make writing more accessible. She is pursuing a Computer Science degree as part of an Accelerated Master’s Program, and she holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, with a minor in Math. Her research focus is machine learning; she has contributed to a variety of deep learning projects at the University of Arizona, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and, most recently, NASA’s Langley Research Center. In her free time, she likes to read children’s books, ride her motorcycle, and play board games.

Miguel Peralta, Student Office Assistant

Miguel Peralta works with the Graduate Center as a Student Office Assistant. He is currently attending the University of Arizona for an undergraduate degree in Information Science, as well as a minor in Spanish. He is interested in pursuing a career as a data analyst. As an Office Assistant, he works with the Graduate Center team by providing support in logistics, event management, office support, and database management.


Last updated 11 Jan 2023