Peer Mentor Staff

Meet the 2016 UMW Peer Mentor TeamOrientation-13

Melissa Jones
Assistant Dean for Student Involvement

Sam Kasner
Graduate Assistant for Orientation

Contact Us

Meet the Peer Mentors

Each year, students apply to represent the University of Mary Washington during New Student Orientation.  These students are leaders on campus and are ready to welcome the incoming students to Eagle Nation. During the Fall semester, they transition into Peer Mentors to assist a group of first-year students during their college experience. It’s a Great Day to be an Eagle!

Kadie 1-min

Kadie Bennis: Peer Mentor

Kadie Bennis is a rising Senior majoring in Geology and minoring in French. She is a highly active member of the UMW community and looks forward to her second year working with the Orientation Team to welcome the class of 2020! Aside from her busy life at school, she enjoys spending time with friends, playing Pokémon, and doing homework in lab (because rocks and minerals are hardcore awesome!!). Her dream is to visit France in the near future, but more realistically will attend graduate school to pursue a higher degree in Hard Rock Geology.

Photo Apr 27, 3 01 26 AM-min

Marc Gehlsen: Peer Mentor

Marc Gehlsen is a rising Senior from Nokesville, Virginia pursuing a double major in Spanish and Linguistics. He is the Director of Programming for the Washington Guides in the Office of Admissions, an active member of the Honor Council, and a two-year Orientation veteran. After he graduates, he plans on pursuing a graduate program in Forensic Linguistics to become a crime-fighting word nerd. He strongly believes in a positive attitude and the three Cs: cats, coffee, and class.

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Mac Plaia: Peer Mentor

Mac Plaia is a rising Senior Business Administration major and Sports Management minor from Roanoke, Virginia. She is Set Up Manager for the Office of Student Activities and Engagement, Publicity Manager for the Campus Programming Board, and a three year veteran of the Orientation team. After graduation, she plans to attend law school, although she does not know what type of law she wants to practice yet.


Morgan James: Peer Mentor

Morgan James is a rising Senior and is pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and German. After graduation, she is very excited to start working towards her law degree. This is her third year being a part of the UMW Orientation team, and she is very excited to welcome the Class of 2020. She is the current Sustainability Coordinator and Vice President of the Campus Programming Board. She enjoys drinking too much coffee, going on long hikes, and saying “Hi” to every dog she meets.


Victoria Anderson: Peer Mentor

Victoria is a rising Senior (GO DEVILS!) from Fairfax Station, Virginia, majoring in History and is in the Elementary Education program. This is her second year being part of the Orientation team. Currently, she is the CPB Reel Deals Co-Chair and helps to run the movie theater on campus. When she is not running around, Victoria enjoys tie-dying, taking naps, and singing along to every single Beatles song. Her spirit animal is a dog with a flower crown.


Lauren Bache: Peer Mentor

Lauren Bache is a rising Senior from Culpeper, Virginia. She transferred to UMW from Germanna Community College after getting her Associate degree in General Education with a focus in Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is a computer lab aide for the Psychology department. She is also a member of the Young Women’s Leadership Program. Lauren loves spending her free time with her Chug (Chihuahua/Pug mix).


Mikey Barnes: Peer Mentor

Mikey Barnes is a rising Senior from Falls Church, Virginia who is majoring in Communication and Digital Studies. Mikey is very much involved in the UMW community, some examples being Vice President of Club Basketball, Sports Editor of the school paper and Vice President of Best Buddies. He is a big sports enthusiast and can often be found at the sporting events or in the Anderson Center working with the Athletics program. Mikey owns too much Vineyard Vines and is okay with that. His ambitions are to be famous and to marry Selena Gomez, though he has no idea how either of those two are going to happen.

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Dalton Baughn: Peer Mentor

Dalton Baughn is a rising Junior at the University of Mary Washington.  He is a Classics major with a concentration in Classical Archaeology.  Dalton was part of the Orientation team last year and is looking forward to saying “What’s up?” to every member of the Class of 2020.  Dalton has been a part of Alpha Mu Sigma for the past two years, and has been involved in UMW’s Theatre department as well. When he is not reading or looking at old stuff, Dalton enjoys hibernating daily as well as dreaming of pocket-sized giraffes.

Shannon Becker-min

Shannon Becker: Peer Mentor

Shannon Becker is a rising Junior Biology and Latin double major, who wants to be a doctor. She’s involved in Campus Programming Board and Community Outreach and Resources. Her hobbies include traveling, doing anything outside, and meeting new people.

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Stephanie Buckler: Peer Mentor

Stephanie Buckler is a rising Senior and a Classics major with a concentration in Latin in the K-12 Education program from right here in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is Co-President of Classics Club, Vice President of Talk to the Hands: UMW’s ASL Club, and Programming Chair for the Association of Residence Halls. This is her second year as an Orientation Leader and her piece of advice is to never apologize for being uniquely you.


Charlotte Burch: Peer Mentor

Charlotte Burch is a rising Junior from New Canaan, Connecticut. She is majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and has a double minor in Social Justice and Business Administration. She is a member and on the executive board for Alpha Mu Sigma, UMW’s co-ed service fraternity, and works at The Office of Student Activities and Engagement’s front desk. After college, Charlotte plans on moving back to New England and working for a non-profit organization.

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Benjamin Caracciolo: Peer Mentor

Benjamin Caracciolo is a rising Sophomore and is beside himself (in the best way possible) to be a part of the Orientation team this coming summer. He is currently playing around with the idea of double majoring in Communications and Business Administration, and the final outcome is TBA. Listening to Beyoncé and applying chapstick are two pastimes to ensure that he leads a healthy, successful lifestyle.

Nora Darwish-min

Nora Darwish: Peer Mentor

Nora Darwish is a rising Junior pursuing a Business Administration major. She is highly active in the community. She works as a Resident Assistant, is the current Social Chair for UMW Student Ambassadors, a member of the UMW Constitutional Review Board, and  a member of Students Helping Honduras. In her free time, she watches New Girl and listens to Italian music. After graduation, she hopes to work in international business and travel the world.


Madison Doehler: Peer Mentor

Madison Doehler is a rising Junior originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia majoring in Psychology and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies. She is a returning Orientation Leader and Peer Mentor from 2015, is involved in Campus Catholic Ministries and is a volunteer Washington Guide.

Shannon Finnley 2-min

Shannon Finney: Peer Mentor

Shannon is a rising Junior majoring in English and pursuing a Master’s degree in Education. She is President of the Class of 2018 and a member of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. This is her second year on the Orientation team and she cannot wait to meet all of the new students! She loves dogs and pizza, and loves when she can eat pizza while hanging out with dogs.

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Laura Gilchrist: Peer Mentor

Laura Gilchrist is a rising Senior majoring in Historic Preservation and minoring in Museum Studies. She is the Vice President for the Senior Class as well as the Commuter Student Association President; this will be her third year as part of the Orientation Team. When not hanging out in the Student Activities and Engagement office, she can be found reading a book by the fountain or taking a nap. She is graduating in the Fall of 2016 and she hopes to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Museum of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies in the United Kingdom. Her life motto is that “You should always be three things: Sassy, Classy, and Fabulous.”

Courtney Hardy-min

Courtney Hardy: Peer Mentor

Courtney Hardy is rising Junior Psychology major from Hampton, Virginia. She is on the Relay for Life Committee and is new to the Orientation team this year. In addition, Courtney also helps raise a service dog through Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), named Jax, here at Mary Washington. After graduation, Courtney plans to attend graduate school to pursue her School Counseling Master’s Degree and certification.

Sophia _1-min

Sophia Hamdan: Peer Mentor

Sophia Hamdan is a rising junior English major and Practical Ethics minor.  She is a concierge at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center, Vice President of Women’s Ultimate Frisbee, a returning Orientation Leader, a volunteer Washington Tour Guide, and the Legislative Action Committee Chairperson on the Executive Cabinet of Student Government Association.  Sophia is an avid reader and plans to attend graduate school following graduation.


Danielle Howard: Peer Mentor

Danielle Howard is a junior from Richmond, Virginia. She is double majoring in Political Science and English and double minoring in Digital Studies and Social Justice. She is heavily involved with the James Farmer Multicultural Center and majority of the cultural clubs on campus. She can document the rise and fall of Kanye and hopes to be the future president of the United States of America.


Richelle Holnich: Peer Mentor

Richelle Holnick is a rising Sophomore from Sellersville, Pennsylvania. She is pursuing her degree in Marketing with a minor in Economics. On campus, she is involved in Alpha Mu Sigma, a co-ed organizational fraternity. Richelle is hoping to study abroad in Italy in 2017.

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Maria Ingea: Peer Mentor

Maria Ingea is a rising Junior from Reston, Virginia, double majoring in Marketing and Communications & Digital Studies. She is Productions Box Office chair for the Campus Programming Board. After graduation, Maria plans to start crying and won’t stop until someone hires her.

Photo May 15, 2 00 23 PM-min

Harper James: Peer Mentor

Harper James is a rising Sophomore and a prospective Business Administration major from San Leandro, California. He is a Captain for the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club Team. He enjoys eating a large pizza by himself and then going to grab dinner.

Jesse Jones-min

Jesse Jones: Peer Mentor

Jesse Jones is a rising Junior and Business Administration major from Springfield, Virginia. He is a promotional intern for UMW Athletics and works for Student Activities and Engagement. He is also an active member of Best Buddies and the Association of Residence Halls. Jesse enjoys hiking and hammocking as well as partaking in any intramural sporting event he can get involved with.

Mariam Khan: Peer Mentor

Mariam Khan is a rising senior from Arlington, VA. She is a Sociology and Women & Gender Studies double major. She is heavily involved with the James Farmer Multicultural Center and many of the cultural clubs on campus. She believes activism is the key to change and is Danielle Howard’s biggest fan.

Jackie Khawand-min

Jackie Khawand: Peer Mentor

Jackie Khawand is a rising Senior majoring in Mathematics. She is very active on campus as the President of the Honor Council and a member of Alpha Mu Sigma, a community service organization. This is her second year on the Orientation team because she had so much fun the first time. Her favorite pastimes include watching Netflix and pretending to be a mermaid in any available body of water, including bathtubs.

Lisa Marie King:  Peer Mentor

Lisa Marie is a Freshman from Alexandria, Virginia. She is a prospective Psychology and Spanish double major with a minor in Contemplative Practice. She is half German and hopes to study abroad in Spain someday. This is her first year working as an Orientation Leader and she is excited to welcome in the Class of 2020!

 Lindsey Kowaki-minLindsey Kowaki:  Peer Mentor

Lindsey Kowaki is a rising Sophomore from Virginia Beach, Virginia. When she is not studying or doing homework, she works as a part of the UCrew Empire and swims with the UMW Club Swim Team. She really enjoys Netflix and her favorite shows are The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The X-Files. This is her first year as an Orientation Leader, and she can’t wait to greet the Class of 2020!

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Chris Markham: Peer Mentor

Chris Markham is a rising Senior from Fluvanna County, Virginia. He is a Journalism major with a minor in Sports Management, with plans to become a sports journalist or a coach. Chris runs cross country and track for UMW, is Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Blue & Gray Press, was an RA his junior year, has a sports talk radio show with fellow OL Mikey Barnes, and is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council. Chris enjoys playing and watching sports, likes spending time outdoors, and spreading school spirit.


Patrick Minkler: Peer Mentor

Patrick Minkler is a rising Sophomore hoping to double major in Business Administration and Communication. Along with being an Orientation Leader, he is a Washington Guide and a UMW Ambassador for Alumni Relations. In his free time, he enjoys long walks on the beach, shopping at J. Crew, and spending time with his mother, Mary.



Benjamin Purdy: Peer Mentor

Ben Purdy is a rising senior from Alexandria, Virginia who is double majoring in Spanish and Political Science. This is Ben’s second year as an Orientation Leader and cannot wait to welcome this new class of UMW Eagles. Ben is the Vice President of the Latino Student Association, a Student Senator, and an award winning member of Mary Washington’s Model United Nations team. He enjoys dogs of all shapes and sizes, relaxing in his hammock on campus walk, and eating at Soup and Taco. In the future, Ben hopes to join the Peace Corps and then pursue a career in immigration law.

AJ Ramos:  Peer Mentor

AJ is a rising Junior majoring in Psychology, double minoring in Biology and Neuroscience, while completing Pre-Med and Honors requirements.  He is on the Improv Team, and is involved in the Theater department.  Every fall, he performs in the on-campus Rocky Horror Picture Show. In his free time, he enjoys going to the gym, eating pizza and playing Smash Bros. This is his first time as an Orientation Leader, and he could not be more excited.

Lexi Robinson: Peer Mentor

Lexi Robinson is a Senior Psychology and English double major on the Premed track, with a minor in Neuroscience. She is a member of UMW’s Mortar Board Chapter, Psychology Honor Society: Psi Chi, a contributing member of Divest UMW and various other student activist organizations, and a Washington Guide. Her hobbies include photography, throwing down random facts, binge watching anime, nature exploration, coffee consumption and car dancing. Lexi is a three-year veteran of the Orientation Team and loves sharing her passion for UMW with incoming students. She believes as long as you keep fighting the good fight, nothing can stop you. Ja’ feel? Welcome home, Eagles?

Alyssa Ruhlen-min

Alyssa Ruhlen: Peer Mentor

Alyssa Ruhlen is a rising Sophomore in the Education Program, and planning to pursue a major in History and a minor in German. On campus, she is an active member of the German Club and the co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Mu Sigma. She is planning on moving in five years to Williamsburg, Virginia after receiving her teaching license. She loves talking about her cat and her newborn sister.


Emily Stallings: Peer Mentor

Emily Stallings is a rising Senior from Chesapeake, Virginia majoring in Psychology and is in the Elementary Education Program. She is a third year Orientation Leader and is excited to spend her final summer at Mary Wash welcoming the Class of 2020. Emily is President of Campus Programming Board. She is super excited to go to Grad School for Student Affairs so she never has to leave college!

Joemmel Tendilla-min

Joemmel Tendilla: Peer Mentor

Joemmel Tendilla is a rising Sophomore from Virginia Beach, Virginia pursuing a double major in Political Science and Sociology with a minor in Social Justice. He is a Dorsey Scholar, an active volunteer in the Fredericksburg community, and a photographer for the University Relations and Communication team. He strongly believes in positive thinking and having a great college experience.

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Theodosius Zotos: Peer Mentor

Theodosius Zotos is a rising Sophomore from Fredericksburg, VA. He is part Greek and part Korean. Here at Mary Washington he is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Economics. He is the President of the Sophomore class and is involved in several organizations on campus, including Student Senate and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.