Meet Our Students

HESA’s MA and PhD students have an extraordinary range of backgrounds, experiences, research interests, and talents.  Below are profiles of just a few of our wonderful students!

PhD Students

Steph Charles

Steph is a second-year doctoral student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at The Ohio State University. She is serving as the Student Personnel Assistantship (SPA) GA. She is originally from England, but spent most of her childhood and upbringing in Huntsville, Alabama.

Steph received her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in History and completed her master’s program in 2017 at the University of Alabama in Higher Education Administration.

Steph is particularly interested in working and researching in the area of student retention and persistence. She has worked in residence life, student success initiatives, programming for students with children, and parent and family orientation.

Some of her favorite things include: her dog Dobby, everything Harry Potter related, Alabama football (Roll Tide!), and anything green.

Laura Dahl

Laura Dahl is a PhD candidate in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at The Ohio StateUniversity and is transitioning from ACREO (Assessment of Collegiate Residential Experiences and Outcomes) to a research associate for IDEALS (Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey).

She received an MEd in College Student Affairs Administration from The University of Georgia and a BS in Applied Mathematics from The Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to OSU she worked at Rutgers University’s Douglass Residential College as Director of Research Programs and Advising for Undergraduate Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Her research interests include using quantitative methods to explore student bystander intervention disposition, student intellectual and cognitive development, and the experiences of students in the STEM fields.

Antonio Duran

Antonio Duran is a PhD candidate in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at The Ohio State University.  His advisor is Dr. Susan Jones.  Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Antonio acquired his undergraduate degree at New York University and completed his master’s work at Miami University in Ohio.  Antonio comes to OSU with experiences in residence life, as well as in LGBTQ Student Centers.

Antonio’s research interests include examining the experiences of queer and transgender collegians of color, together with understanding the practices of educators who engage in critical pedagogy.  He is also particularly interested in serving as a resource for graduate students and new professionals in student affairs.  Antonio is always excited to speak with prospective HESA students!  Feel free to ask him about going straight through to a PhD program from a master’s experience, identifying as QPOC in Columbus, or about anything in general.

Tyler Hallmark

Tyler is a second-year PhD student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at The Ohio State University. He serves as a Graduate Research Associate with his advisor, Dr. Anne Marie Nuñez. Originally from Oklahoma, Tyler is a first-generation college student and Gates Millennium Scholar. He received his BA from the University of Colorado Boulder and his MSEd from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tyler has interned both domestically, with the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education in Washington, D.C., as well as internationally, with Contact North | Contact Nord, a government-funded, non-profit corporation based in Ontario, Canada. His research interests focus on two key areas in higher education: 1) social stratification and equity and 2) institutional climate and culture. In particular, Tyler is interested in examining issues related to social class and exploring how higher education environments may be more supportive of low-income, first-generation students.


MA Students

Brian Allen

Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona, Brian moved to Ohio in 2013 to complete his undergraduate degree at Denison University. As a student, Brian led several LGBTQIA+ student organizations, was involved in alumni relations, and was a Six-Time All American diver on the Men’s Swimming and Diving team. Through all of this involvement, Brian found passion areas in student development, access to higher education, and LGBTQIA+ student support culminating in a senior thesis titled: “Gimme the T: Transgender Student Experiences at Denison University”. In the spring of 2017 he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology with a concentration in Queer Studies. Brian now serves on the Board of Trustees as the Recent Student Trustee.

As a second-year in the Higher Education and Student Affairs master’s program at The Ohio State University, these passions continue to inform Brian’s work at Ohio State as an Assistant Hall Director in the department of Residence Life. In this capacity, Brian is responsible for sharing the supervision of 23 paraprofessional student staff, managing two Engineering Scholars programs, and working with international students living in Drackett Tower. Brian also serves on the Higher Education Student Personnel Association (HEPSA) executive board as Fundraising Chair, and the previous year served as the Alumni and Graduation Chair.

Recently, Brian worked at The American University of Paris in their Student Development office and helped to develop AUP’s Global Professional Skills (GPS) program for students. Brian is looking forward to pursuing a career in student development, alumni engagement, or a global studies program after Ohio State.

Sophie Braga de Barros

Sophie Braga de Barros is a second-year master’s student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. She currently serves as the Graduate Administrative Associate for Student Life’s Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services. She also has a practicum with the Ohio Union Activities Programming Board (OUAB).

Sophie is an international student from São Paulo, Brazil and grew up in Latin America. She graduated from the University of Miami in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication after pursuing majors in Journalism and Latin American Studies and a minor in Human and Social Development. As an undergraduate student, her passion for Student Affairs grew from her involvement with the school’s programming board, orientation and student media.

Sophie’s current interests are grounded in student leadership development, but she is also interested in the areas of retention, commuter student support and international student support. After graduating from the HESA program, Sophie hopes begin her career as a Student Affairs practitioner and eventually pursue an EdD degree that can help her grow as a professional while exploring her research interests.

Dalton Dey

Dalton is a second-year masters student in the Higher Education andStudent Affairs program. He is currently a Graduate Administrative Associate for Residence Life where he serves as an Assistant Hall Director in the Houston/Houck Complex. He also has a second assistantship with the Student Athlete Support Services Office as an academic coach.

Dalton is originally from Gresham, Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration where he majored in Finance with minors in Mathematics and Statistics. As an undergraduate, he became interested in Student Affairs through his involvement with both Orientation and Admissions.

Melany Freiria

Melany is a second-year Master’s student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. She is currently the Graduate Administrative Associate for Honors Programming at the Honors & Scholars Center. Outside of her assistantship, Melany is a Wellness Coach for the Office of Student Life Student Wellness Center and a co-facilitator for the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center’s BELLA Latina student cohort. She is also the Strategic Communications Chair for the Higher Education Student Personnel Association.

Melany is from Miami, Florida and graduated from Florida International University in 2017 where she pursued a dual degree in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies as well as a certificate in Leadership Studies. As an undergraduate, Melany explored many areas of campus through her involvements in Orientation, Housing, Greek Life, and Alternative Breaks. She found her passion for higher education and student affairs working with FIU Orientation, welcoming students and supporting them through the transition to college life and the institution.

Melany has a few areas of higher education she is interested in, specifically transfer and transition, majority-minority institutions, Latinx student identity development, student mental health, and inclusionary practices. She hopes to gain more professional experience after graduating from the HESA program and one day pursue a PhD in HESA. In the meantime, she is enjoying learning at and experiencing Ohio State and spending time with her ESA dog, Molly.

Gustavo Molinar

Gustavo is a  second-year master’s student in the Higher Education and Student  Affairs program. He serves as an Assistant Hall Director for Residence Life and as a Graduate Assistant in the Multicultural Center. He is also the Wellness Chair for the Higher Education and Student Personnel Association (HESPA) and the Advisor for SUR, a Latino male mentoring program.

Originally from Houston, TX, Gustavo received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts degree in Health & Society from The University of Texas at Austin. During his time at The University of Texas at Austin, Gustavo was involved as a Resident Assistant, Orientation Advisor, Lead Mentor for an access program, and Student Coordinator for the Counseling and Mental Health Center.  Gustavo assisted in the development of the “Thrive at UT” iPhone Mobile application and initiated “Mental Health Promotion Week,” the first week-long event dedicated to promote mental health and reduce its stigma. All of which informed his decision to continue his education in Student Affairs.

Gustavo’s interest include student development, transition and retention, and social justice education—particularly with first-generation, students of color. Additionally, Gustavo is interested in promoting mental health and student wellness.In his spare time, Gustavo enjoys running, reading, and photography. In the future, he hopes to pursue a PhD in Higher Education. Gustavo is more than happy to talk to any prospective students!