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Meet the Wake SPS Student Success Managers

Making the decision to pursue a graduate degree or certificate is a major decision. As a working professional, you’re already balancing a full-time job, a family, and other adult responsibilities.

It can be overwhelming – and we want to help prevent that. 

Wake Forest University’s School of Professional Studies believes in setting students up for success from the beginning. Through our partnership with Kaplan, an educational support company who works with universities across the globe, we offer all prospective and current SPS students the opportunity to work with one of our Student Success Managers. 

This stellar team will: 

  • Advise and guide prospective students
  • Assist throughout the enrollment process
  • Onboard enrolled students, including the necessary financial guidance 
  • Provide personalized service to advise and support students throughout their time at SPS 

Chances are that our Student Success Managers know a lot about you; so to kick off the new semester, we sat down with each of them to learn a little more about who they are and what they bring to Wake SPS.

Eric NelsonEric Nelson

Started as a SSM: March 2022

Background: Bachelor’s degree in Communications / Media Studies and a decade of experience working in hospitality and retail. 

What do you love about your job? 

The chance to positively influence a student’s experience at Wake Forest University, while also getting to know our prospective enrollees, and highlight how the School of Professional Studies can help them reach their goals. It’s a privilege to let my current students know that I am here for them, and can be a second set of eyes as they navigate through their Graduate study.

What’s one thing you’d want a potential student to know? 

Wake Forest has the best support system for students that I have encountered to date, after working for other Higher Education institutions. If a student needs help – even if they do not ask – multiple members of our team are ready to jump into action to lend a hand. This includes Student Success Managers, our Director of Student Services, Faculty and even our Academic Directors. Our team realizes that the world of Higher Education, as well as the needs of our students, are constantly evolving, and Wake Forest consistently steps up to meet and exceed the challenge of offering a supportive, flexible experience for professional learners. 

You can connect with Eric at

Candace Stanton

Started as a SSM: July 2022

Background: An experienced educator across all levels with a B.S. in Psychology and a M.A. in Student Development Counseling and Administration.

What do you love about your job? 

I really enjoy talking with candidates to understand their career goals and sharing with them how Wake Forest University can be instrumental in supporting those goals. In addition, I have always loved being a support system and source of encouragement. It is not always easy to start a graduate program, but I know that once you start and complete it there will be great satisfaction. I take pride in helping students realize their potential.

How did you get into this work?

I have been an educator for over 17 years starting out with students in primary and secondary school. I always enjoyed educating on various levels. My first love has always been the social sciences. This led me to earn a B.S. in Psychology and a M.A. in Student Development Counseling and Administration. I have been lucky enough to be able to connect two of my favorite things in my current role by focusing on education and relationships among individuals.

You can connect with Candace at

Krysta Serafini

Started as a SSM: June 2021

Background: Extensive experience in customer service roles across industries and a Master’s in Management with a focus on Project Management

What do you love about your job? 

The people. Since I work with learners from their very first day until they graduate, I can really get to know them and watch them grow throughout their time at Wake. I enjoy the relationships that are built. 

What’s your favorite piece of advice to give?

Make the most of your degree. It is important to make connections with classmates and professors. This will be the beginning of creating a new community you have the chance to be a part of and grow from. 

You can connect with Krysta at

Kenneth GeorgeKenneth George 

Started as a SSM: June 2021

Background: More than 7 years of experience working with students in higher education and holds a Bachelor’s in Communications with an emphasis in Advertising, as well as currently pursuing a Master of I/O Psychology. 

What do you love about your job? 

It’s both an honor and a privilege to assist students in fulfilling their higher educational goals. Being a support for their success brings daily engagement and joy in what I do.

What’s a typical day look like for you? 

As a Student Success Manager, my typical day involves meeting with students to understand their academic aspirations and career goals. I provide personalized support and guidance on our course offerings and educational pathways. Additionally, I collaborate with faculty and staff to ensure students are receiving the support they each need and I strive to continuously foster a positive and encouraging learning environment for all students.

You can connect with Kenneth at

JanineJanine Gomez

Started as a SSM: March 2022

Background: A Naval veteran with a decade of service and a Bachelor’s Degree is in Communications as well as an MBA from Kaplan University

What do you love about your job?

I truly enjoy consulting with our prospective student population as they share with me how they aspire to achieve their personal and professional goals. I especially enjoy interviewing our prospective Wake Forest applicants during the final interview conversation as they share their motivation and purpose for applying to Graduate School and earn their trust as they share their personal and powerful stories with me. Our students drive me to become a better person.

What tips, tricks, or resources consistently work for adult learners balancing life, work, family, school?

Effective time management is key. Explore and research different time management best practices and tools to create a system that works best for you. Be strategic and have a plan. Have a contingency plan. Be accountable for your actions and how you allocate precious time. 

You can connect with Janine at

RivaRiva Dumont

Started as a SSM: October 2023

Background: Has 8 years of experience in higher education and ten years in customer service with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Champlain College in 2010

What tips, tricks, or resources consistently work for adult learners balancing life, work, family, school? 

Going back to school as an adult learner with a full life juggling work, family, and friends is a fantastic opportunity for growth and also a great challenge. I encourage my students to try to stay as organized as possible, communicate, and plan ahead. Communication is key when working with classmates, expressing concerns to faculty, accessing resources, and managing a personal and professional life while in school.

What do you love about your job?

What I love most about my role with Wake Forest and the School of Professional Studies is absolutely the opportunity to meet individuals from all walks of life. We can learn so much from each person we interact with and I am honored to be a part of my students’ lives while they pursue graduate level degrees. This is often a transformational time for them professionally and it’s thrilling to assist and support them as they go forth to make a greater difference in the world. 

You can connect with Riva at

MelanieMelanie McLain

Started as a SSM: October 2023

Background: Extensive experience in higher education spanning academic and career advising, student onboarding, teaching, and course development with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Development / Human Performance Improvement

What do you love about your job?

I find immense fulfillment in my role because it allows me to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of students. Being part of their academic journey, from admissions and onboarding to providing guidance on academic and career paths, brings a sense of purpose to my work. Witnessing students grow, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals is incredibly rewarding.

What are a few things you’d want a potential student to know?

Embrace a growth mindset: recognize that intelligence and abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Be Curious: curiosity propels learning beyond the confines of the classroom so strive to become a curious learner by developing a desire to explore, understand, and discover.

Beyond the Credential: Remember, the skills you hone alongside knowledge such as discipline, resilience, adaptability, and critical thinking are valuable. Education is not merely about what you know but also about the skills and character you develop along the way.

You can connect with Melanie at

If you’re interested in learning more about a Wake Forest SPS program, reach out to one of our Student Success Managers here

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