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Undergraduate Mentoring for Graduate School

The HDFS Undergraduate Mentoring Program is for HDFS majors who are wondering about or planning on graduate school as their “next step”. Working alongside an HDFS graduate student you will have opportunity to explore options and develop strategies for “maximizing your undergraduate experience in preparation for graduate school”.

Mentoring FAQs // Mentee Application

MEET THE MENTORS

Erin Cooper

My name is Erin Cooper, and I am currently a Marriage and Family Therapy student here in the Human Development and Family Studies Department at Auburn. I am originally from Pulaski, Tennessee and obtained my undergraduate degree from the University of North Alabama in Florence, so I'm a small town girl for the most part. My Bachelor's degree is in psychology and sociology with a minor in family studies. The focus at this point in my career is clinical, however my research interests include couples, couples therapy, and how our experiences in childhood and adolescence impact our adult romantic relationships. I'm also particularly interested in the impact of technological advances in communication (texting/social networking websites or smartphone applications) on our romantic relationships. I am a first year graduate student, fresh out of undergrad, so the first application process is still very familiar to me. It can be intimidating, but we're here to help!

Research interests include:

  • Couples and couples therapy
  • Childhood/adolescent experiences' influence on adult romantic relationships
  • Social networking technology's impact on romantic relationships


Courtney Fixelle

My name is Courtney Fixelle and I am a first year student in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. I am originally from New York and grew up in South Florida. I received my B.S. in Family and Child Sciences and Sociology with a minor in Psychology from Florida State University. Currently, I am a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Carol Roberson’s Marriage and Family, Lifespan Development, Human Sexuality, and Developmental Psychopathology. My undergraduate research background is in helicopter parenting and adolescent relationships.

As an undergraduate, I worked in the Center for Couple and Family Therapy and was surrounded my Ph.D. students. The Ph.D. students helped to guide me through the process of applying and interviewing for graduate school, something I can now offer insight to as well. Applying to graduate school can be a stressful process and I would love be able to help reduce some of that stress.

Research interests include:

  • Romantic relationships
  • Adolescent resilience
  • Helicopter parenting


Brian Gillis

My name is Brian Gillis. I began the Ph.D. program in Human Development and Family Studies in August 2016. I completed the HDFS undergraduate minor at Auburn in 2005 alongside a B.A. in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication. I also have a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a Master of Family Therapy from Southern Connecticut State University. At Auburn, my focus is on ways to improve emotional wellbeing through the body — sleep, physical activity, and nutrition. I am especially interested in ways that physiological mechanisms can be utilized as protective factors for adolescents.

Graduate school can be hugely important for professional and personal identity formation. I am excited to help others through the process of discovering what they hope to get from additional schooling and how to make the best of the experience.

Research interests include:

  • Socio-emotional development
  • Stress and self-regulation
  • Biophysiological mechanisms


CC Hermes

My name is CC Hermes and I am a first year student in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. While originally from Knoxville, TN, I received my B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn, so I’ve been around for a while. I work as a Research Assistant for Dr. Ellaine Miller with the Family Child Care Partnership program, which assists licensed family child care providers in Alabama to provide high quality services, with a focus on moving providers toward national accreditation standards. My own research interests focus on therapeutic outcomes in the context of romantic and family relationships.

In my free time, I love to read, plan my next adventure traveling, and spend quality time with family and friends. Given that I have just recently finished the graduate school admissions process myself, I am eager to share any knowledge I have on the matter with those considering applying to graduate school. I know I couldn’t have done it without the insight of my own graduate student mentor! I have loved my experience so far in the Graduate School, so I am looking forward to talking with you and helping you discern what your next step is after graduation (whether it be graduate school or not)!

Research interests include:

  • Therapeutic outcomes
  • Romantic relationships
  • Parent-child relationships


Nakia Jones

My name is Nakia Jones and I am a graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. I choose this program to further my knowledge in how families operate. I desire to help families stay together through the usage of therapy. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama where I studied Human Development of Family Studies. Currently I am a member of the Graduate Student Organization and a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Research interests include:

  • Parent Child Attachment
  • Family Studies


Dani Lauricella

Hi, I'm Dani Lauricella. I am a graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. I graduated with my degree in Human Development from Brigham Young University. Brigham Young University: I enjoy running, mountain hiking and reading a good book. I believe that traveling is an important way to learn about the world, others and yourself, so I try and do it a lot. Grad school has been a blast, but the application process can be intimidating. I would love to help you in any way that I can!

Research interests include:

  • Family dynamics
  • Adolescent resilience
  • Families in chaos


Leanna McConnell

My name is Leanna McConnell and I am a second year master’s student in HDFS. I grew up in Ohio and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Criminology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. For my assistantship I work with Dr. Hinnant. His current research focuses on decision making in adolescence and utilizes fMRIs. I love being involved in research so this is really interesting and fun for me! My research focus is not completely defined at this point but for my thesis I am working with Dr. Stephen Erath.

In my free time I like to do puzzles, play the piano, and play with my dog Wolfie. I love being around other people and like to spend time at parks and with friends. I also love volunteering but haven’t yet found the place I want to focus on here in Auburn. Being in my second year of graduate school I recently went through the application process and think I could be a big help. I am excited to be a mentor. When I was deciding whether to pursue graduate school and going through the application process, I would have loved to have somebody to help me. I am looking forward to providing that for others!

Research interests include:

  • Programs development/evaluation
  • Victimization
  • Dyadic relationship between parents and children


Mary Sullivan

My name is Mary Sullivan and I am a first year Marriage and Family Therapy masters student. I received my BA in Psychology at Auburn in 2016. I grew up in Birmingham, AL and went to Pelham High School. I work with Dr. Margaret Keiley at Mt. Meigs, doing group family therapy with boys who have committed sexual offenses. Applying to graduate school can be a confusing process, I know I was pretty lost! I'd love to help you with the application process and give you any support you may need!

Research interests include:

  • Romantic relationships
  • Trauma