The decision to return to school or begin college for the first time as an adult learner is a major one. The Bama By Distance Student Services team understands this and provides student and academic support services to help you explore your options.
Even before you are enrolled, there is a Student Services Admissions Counselor available to answer questions and help you navigate through the system. Acting as a liaison between you and the University, your counselor can provide information about admissions, applications, financial aid, scholarship and military programs. Admissions Counselors are here to help you go from student to graduate.
In addition, Student Services offers testing resources to students enrolled in distance courses, including a test-proctoring center. You might even meet some of our representatives at career and education fairs, community colleges and businesses. We want to be where our potential and current students are, and we are committed to helping distance students like you meet your education and career goals.
Meet Our Student Services Team
Sonya Dunkin - Associate Director
One of the first things you'll notice when you meet Sonya is her smile. She puts you at ease from the moment you meet her. She's a person you'll always feel comfortable with when you have a question. Whether it's about military education issues, testing, choosing your degree, graduating on time, or finding a scholarship, Sonya and her team are happy to answer questions and solve problems to help students reach their goals. And if you really want to see her smile, ask her about her family. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling and attending Alabama football games with her family.
Megan Welborn - Assistant Director
If there could be an award given for loving The University of Alabama Megan would win it! She earned a BA in Communication & Information Sciences and her MA in Educational Psychology from UA and has worked in several key positions on campus since graduating. As the Assistant Director of Bama By Distance Student Services, she sees it as her daily mission to share her passion for UA, education, and student success. Her job is to oversee admissions and recruitment efforts for all Bama By Distance programs. However, her main goal is to continue sharing her enthusiasm for learning with others. Megan is married to a Crimson Tide fan that enjoys attending sporting events with her. She also serves as an Executive Committee Board Member for the Tuscaloosa County Alumni Association.
Jarred Twitty - Manager of Specialized Programs
Jarred has worked at the University for five years and knows the admissions process inside and out. His current role allows him to assist transfer students specifically with their transition to Bama By Distance, and he enjoys connecting with students and helping them to find their path. He’s so dedicated that he’s even met students at coffee shops and their homes (invited, of course!) to talk them through their college choices. He’s most proud of seeing one of these students succeed after he helped him find the right scholarship opportunity to help him chase his dreams. He loves sports, spending time with friends and family, enjoying great food and traveling!
James Shamlee - Military Services/DL Testing Manager
Soldiers make the best students. A former U.S. Army Senior Military Instructor at The University of Alabama ROTC Department, James knows it first-hand. He has a B.S. in Business Administration and later earned his M.S. in Human Environmental Sciences (Interactive Technology) from UA. When you talk to James, you'll know immediately that he loves what he does. He loves helping military students, and talking with military recruits. You'll appreciate James' give-it-all-you've-got attitude. In his spare time, he enjoys tinkering with computers.
Nichelle McMullen, EdD - Testing and Military Services Coordinator
Nichelle has over ten years of experience in student services, and her transcript is decorated with several degrees, all of which she has earned online. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business, a master’s in education, and she has a doctoral degree in adult education along with post graduate certificates in adult learning leadership and learning and accountability. It’s safe to say she’s an expert for distance learners! She looks forward to daily dialogue with prospective and current students who are taking steps toward accomplishing their dreams.
Miranda Carlisle - Program Coordinator
Have a question about UA? Miranda has the answer. Not just because she's an adjunct instructor for the College of Communication and Information Sciences, but because she's been a student here, just like you! No one knows better than Miranda. She'll help you figure out what you need to get started and hit the ground running once you do. And, if you want to know what you missed on the last episode of your favorite TV crime drama, she can fill you in on that, too.
Nakia is passionate about making sure that students thrive and works hard to propel them forward. This makes her job as the key person responsible for tracking grants, initiatives and scholarships for our college very special to her and us! Nakia holds a B.A. in Art and Art History and worked for seven years in higher education before coming to UA. Nakia spends most of her free time with her family; however, she can also be found writing. She likes truth, justice, kindness, humor, storytelling and zone defense. In addition to UA Football, she enjoys watching the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons.
Claire Slaton - Enrollment Coordinator
Claire has dedicated her career to serving students. After earning her Bachelor of Science in biology, she started at The University of Alabama as a recruiting specialist for UA Early College. Now, as an enrollment coordinator for Bama By Distance Student Services, she is able to combine her love of helping students with her interest in data analysis to provide nontraditional students an opportunity to earn a degree from The University of Alabama. In her spare time, Claire and her husband enjoy attending sporting events.
Donna Pickard - Admissions Counselor
Donna has worked at The University of Alabama since January 2001. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Consumer Affairs and a Master of Arts degree in Human Environmental Sciences, both from The University of Alabama. She is married, has two grown children, two granddaughters, and a spoiled dog. Donna can usually be found supporting her granddaughters at softball games and dance recitals. She also enjoys cheering on the Crimson Tide football team.
Michele Butler - Admissions Counselor
Just a short time ago, when Michele was in kindergarten, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grows up, and she said, “An Alabama cheerleader!” She’s grateful for the chance to live out that dream through the Bama By Distance Student Services team, where she assists students with the admissions process for online degree programs through the College of Human Environmental Sciences. She earned her bachelor’s in marketing from the Capstone and her MBA from the University of West Georgia. Her energetic and fun personality make her a winner as she cheers BBD students on to pursue and achieve their dreams.
Thanh Tran - Admissions Counselor
Thanh's bright and bubbly personality makes her a perfect fit for her position as
an admission counselor. She thrives when she is able to meet and get to know students
on a personal level, allowing her to help ease any anxiety or fears that students
may have about pursuing an online degree. She was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City,
Vietnam, and completed her bachelor's degree at Western Kentucky University before
relocating to Tuscaloosa with her husband. Thanh can usually be found with a good
cup of coffee in her hand and spending time with her family. She also enjoys baking
Gary Vaden - Admissions Counselor
From your first conversation with Gary, you will recognize his passion for helping
students succeed. A native Texan, Gary holds a Bachelor of Arts in music education
and a Master of Education with a concentration in counseling. He worked as a high
school counselor in Texas for 18 years before relocating to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His
favorite part of the job is helping students achieve their dreams of obtaining a degree
from The University of Alabama. In his spare time, Gary can be found at an Alabama
football, softball or baseball game with his two daughters.
Danielle Sagirs - Program Assistant
Dani helps the Student Services team with everything from travel arrangements to planning the graduation reception at the end of each semester. She loves hearing from and helping distance students in her role. She graduated from The University of Alabama and loves the Crimson Tide and is also passionate about art, putting her talent to use in photography and design in her spare time.
Jenna Hearing - Office Associate
Jenna is a proud alumna of The University of Alabama through the Culverhouse College of Business, which her husband also attended. A Tuscaloosa native, she can offer insights and all the best tips for distance students who visit our town. Her favorite part of her role in Student Services is listening to nontraditional students talk about their drive and desire to start or finish their degree program. She also enjoys reading, cooking and travelling — her fridge boasts a collection of magnets from all of the places she has visited!
Ashley Josey - Testing Associate
Ashley’s love of people has always drawn her to help others. As a testing associate, her positive attitude reassures and encourages students taking their proctored exams. She earned an associate degree in social work from Georgia Military College before moving to Tuscaloosa, where she is now pursuing a master's degree in health education through Bama By Distance. A born-and-raised Alabama football fan, Ashley remembers watching games with her grandfather while wearing a houndstooth Bear Bryant hat. In her spare time, Ashley competes in Crossfit competitions, spends time with her dog Emma, and enjoys visiting Disney World. She is also involved with C.A.R.E.S. (Coalition, Awareness, Rescue, Education, Services) for Human Trafficking.
Rebecca Skipper - Testing Associate
Rebecca helps distance students by providing and securing proctoring services for exams on and off campus. She loves taking the worry out of the equation so that all the students have to be concerned about is preparing for their tests! She has a history of helping students at the SupeStore during her undergraduate years here, and she looks forward to continuing her education at the Capstone. She loves all things Alabama and fills her spare time by watching Crimson Tide football with family and friends and working on the pottery wheel.