HHS Advancement

Health and Human Sciences

Catherine Ennis

Lifetime Legacy Award

Catherine Ennis, PhD (Posthumous)
Kinesiology (‘77 MS)

In Dr. Ennis’s 44-year professional career, she taught physical education at elementary and secondary schools and universities. She coached field hockey and lacrosse at Duke and University of Richmond. She spent 34 years working as a researcher, scholar, physical education teacher educator. Dr. Ennis devoted all her energy, talent, and wisdom to physical education, an area of study she believed will benefit all children.

Dr. Ennis attended UNCG as a master’s student in the Department of Physical Education studying measurement with Dr. Rosemary McGee. She went on to pursue her Ph.D. study with Dr. Ann Jewett at the University of Georgia-Athens. She then served as a physical education teacher educator and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1984-1989) and the University of Maryland-College Park (1989-2008). In 2008, Dr. Ennis accepted an appointment of professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science (now Department of Kinesiology) at UNCG.

Dr. Ennis’ greatest contributions to the field of kinesiology are in the area of physical education curriculum theory and development through robust empirical research. Her influence on the entire field is wide and deep. Her scholarly vision has paved the way for many scholars to pursue creative thinking about the future of physical education and kinesiology.

Dr. Ennis was a leader. As President of the National Academy of Kinesiology (2013-2016) and SHAPE-America Research Consortium (2009-2011), she led the entire field of kinesiology in pursuing high scholarship standards that guide national physical activity policies and innovative K-12 physical education programming. Dr. Ennis passed away of cancer in April 2017 as an active faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at the UNCG. Her career accomplishments and contributions are impossible to quantify.

Alan Smith

Distinguished Alumni Award

Alan Smith, PhD
Kinesiology (‘93 MS)

Alan L. Smith is Dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University, where he is also a Professor of Kinesiology and Health Science. His research addresses the link of sport and physical activity involvement with young people’s psychological and social functioning. Smith is widely known for his research on peer relationships in the physical activity domain (e.g., sport, physical education) and the motivational implications of these relationships for children and adolescents.

His work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. Department of Education as well as other agencies. His recent work includes the examination of physical activity as a means of ameliorating symptoms and impairments of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in young children. This work involves interdisciplinary collaboration with experts in neuroscience, motor control, and biobehavioral and clinical psychology.

Smith’s publications appear in various kinesiology, psychology, and public health outlets, and he recently co-edited a leading graduate text, “Advances in Sport and Exercise Psychology.” He has served as associate editor of the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology and the International Journal of Sport Psychology, as well as on the editorial boards of Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Child Development, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, Kinesiology Review, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, and Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology.

He is a past president of the American Kinesiology Association and of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, served on the 2020-2021 President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Science Board, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology.

Ishan Bhatt

Emerging Leader Award

Ishan Bhatt, PhD
Communication Sciences and Disorders (‘13 PhD)

Dr. Ishan Bhatt came to UNCG as an Internal doctoral student from India. He graduated with his PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) from UNCG in 2013. Since that time, he has become a successful teacher, researcher, mentor, and scholar in the field of Audiology (hearing sciences).

Dr. Bhatt has begun a nationally recognized track of cutting edge research that is investigating the role of genetics in chronic tinnitus(ringing in the ears) and noise-induced hearing loss. He began his work in the Academy at the Northern Arizona University, where he got tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor.

Recently, he has gone to work at the University of Iowa, which has one of the highest ranked CSD programs in the USA. He has been successful in obtaining Federal grants to support his work in tinnitus and genetics as listed below in his CV and BioSketch. Dr. Bhatt is not only a great researcher, but he has distinguished himself as a great teacher as well.

In 2018, he was named Teacher of the Year at Northern Arizona University. He describes his teaching philosophy as follows:

“I believe that the teaching styles of a graduate-level instructor should be more adaptable to meet discipline-specific requirements. My graduate classes include theoretical discussions about controversial topics, clinical case studies, and hands-on clinical learning assignments.

These activities are effective for developing self-authorship in learning, critical thinking, diverse reasoning, and problem-solving. In my classes, you will see an interdisciplinary teaching approach that improves students’ learning experiences. Guest speakers from multiple disciplines are invited to discuss their perspectives on communication disorders.

Interested students are provided opportunities to work under the direction of a research team a my Audio Genomics Research Lab with other students and experts from the fields of audiology, biology, genetics, biostatistics, and pharmacology. Learning is a dynamic process, and so the teaching philosophy cannot be static.

A conscientious instructor must continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the underlying teaching philosophy with objective and unbiased assessments and must modify it in light of new research evidence. I believe that professionally successful and personally satisfied individuals can be evolved when instructors and students are open to receive new knowledge.”

Melanie Hardy

Public Service Award

Melanie Hardy
Genetic Counseling (‘11 MS)

Melanie is the Director of Genetic Counseling Services for the JScreen program at Emory University. JScreen provides patient-initiated clinical testing for expanded carrier screening and cancer screening to people across the United States. She is manager of the genetic counseling team and works on multiple research projects along with her clinical genetic counseling duties.

She has also serves as a clinical supervisor to students multiple genetic counseling programs including UNCG. Melanie graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Michigan State University in 1998 and followed with a 9-year career as a high school biology, chemistry, and forensics teacher. She received a Master’s degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University in 2009 and a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2011.

She was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2012. Before joining the JScreen team, Melanie worked as a prenatal genetic counselor in a Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic in Richmond, VA. Her professional interests include community outreach and education, mentorship, provision of telehealth, and enhancement of the healthcare experience. She has publications in peer-reviewed journals, accepted abstracts and presentations on these topics as well.

Public service and leadership are deeply engrained within Melanie. She served as the Central region Representative (2014-2015), then the Board of Directors for the Virginia Association of Genetic Counselors from 2016-2018, then the American Board of Genetic Counselors Board of Directors Nominations Committee Chair in 2019. She has held many service and leadership positions within the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) organization.

She was the Outreach Task Force Leader and Education and Certification Task Force Leader for the NSGC Student/New Member Special Interest Group; NSGC Annual Education Conference Orientation Chair; NSGC Mentor Program Chair; NSGC Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (SIG) Chair in 2019-2020 and previously the Outreach Task Force Leader; NSGC Lab/Industry SIG Chair in 2019-3030 and previously held the Education Subcommittee Chair position in 2018; NSGC Licensure Subcommittee Chair in 2019-2020; Multi-State Licensure Resources Working Group Founder and Chair in 2019-2021; and she is currently serving as the Chair of the 2021-2022 NSGC Annual Conference Program Committee.

In recognition of her phenomenal professional service and leadership, Melanie was awarded the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ New Leader Award in 2014, the NSGC Student/New Member SIG Outstanding Leadership & Activism Scholarship in 2014, the UNCG School of Health and Human Sciences Pacesetter Alumni Award in 2017, and she was a Genome Magazine Code Talker Award Finalist in 2017.

In 2019, Melanie was recognized with the Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award for involvement in a wide array of professional activities. She received the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) and Emory Genetic Counseling Training Program’s Outstanding Supervisor Award in 2021.



These awards honor outstanding alumni in the School of HHS who have attained local, state, or regional recognition through their achievements in scholarship, leadership, or service during their career or through civic involvement. Each Department selected a Pacesetter awardee to honor.

Austin Collum

Austin Collum (‘17 MA)

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Upon graduation from UNCG in 2017 Austin secured a Clinical Fellowship at the Lakeshore Professional Voice Center in Detroit Michigan. After completing his Clinical Fellowship, he was highly sought after and accepted a position as a Clinical Voice Pathologist and Singing Voice Specialist at Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates in Orlando Florida. He is now the clinical voice specialist at the University of Utah as well as being adjunct faculty at Mississippi University for Women.

Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams (‘99 BS)

Community and Therapeutic Recreation

Sharon Lamm Williams is an alumna of the Department of Community and Therapeutic Recreation earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Parks Management, with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, in 1999. Following middle-management positions in Mooresville, Mecklenburg County, and Davidson, Sharon returned to Greensboro in 2014 to become the Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation Coordinator for Greensboro’s Parks and Recreation Department.

For the past 8 years, Sharon has done extraordinary work on behalf of citizens of all abilities in our city. She manages over $300,000 for adaptive and inclusive programming, coordinates summer day camps that serve children and youth with disabilities, and supervises full-time, seasonal, and part-time staff for the organization. A few of her more noteworthy accomplishments include receiving a grant to build and staff an accessible kayak launch at Lake Higgins, the first one in Guilford County, and she partnered with Proehlific Park and The Arc to receive funding for the Challenger League in the Triad area.

Ms. Williams applied her leadership skills to Chair the Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities for 3 years and designed and implemented inclusion training for all parks and recreation employees, city leaders, and park rangers. The Department of Community and Therapeutic Recreation has benefited greatly through her substantial efforts.

She has been instrumental in designing a long-term contract with CTR to fund a Graduate Assistant in Therapeutic Recreation that supports both of our agencies’ initiatives to help make our city’s recreation, sports, and day programs more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive.

Meagan Farmer

Meagan Farmer (‘12 MS)

Genetic Counseling

Meagan is the Senior Marketing Manager in Population Health at Ambry Genetics where she develops and manages product marketing strategy for population health platforms, identifying and executing key marketing programs with performance metrics. Prior to this role, she was Genetic Counseling Business Manager and Genetic Clinical Operations Director at My Gene Counsel (mGC), LLC (2014-2022).

Meagan Farmer graduated from University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Public Health. She received her Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Genetic Counseling Program in 2012 and was competitively selected for the Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling Fellowship. As a new graduate, Meagan worked as a cancer, prenatal and general genetic counselor at University of Alabama at Burmingham (UAB), then became Director of Cancer Genetic Counseling in 2013 and Lead Genetic Counselor of Oncology Services in 2018.

Meagan earned an MBA at UAB Collat School of Business in 2017. Her passion and expertise in cancer genetics, public health and education drove her to contribute at the institutional, state and national level on initiatives such as the Cancer Management Team, Telemedicine Advisory Board, Precision Oncology Working Group, Clinical Genetics Systems Committee at UAB as well as the Variant Review Committee of the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative, and Genetics/Familial High-Risk Assessment: Breast and Ovarian Cancer Panel through the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Not only has Meagan served on the UAB Genetic Counseling Program’s curriculum committee, but she has been a clinical rotation supervisor, instructor, coursemaster, and has served on multiple thesis committees. She is also Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Fellowship at UAB Genetic Counseling Training Program. Selected presentations and activities include The Kinetix Group Oncology Thought Leaders Network as well as monthly series with Precision Oncology News. Finally, Meagan continues to give back at the community level.

She is a board member of Normal Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation and has been a board member for Susan G. Komen North Central Alabama. Meagan’s research interests and grant work is focused on translational cancer genetics research, telemedicine service delivery model and exploring barriers to participation in breast cancer research among African Americans. In 2017, she co-authored a textbook Pediatric Cancer Genetics and has written several book chapters in oncology texts.

Ann Marie DiSerafino

Ann Marie DiSerafino (‘21 MS)


Ann Marie DiSerafino is a Regional Service Coordinator for Resources for Seniors (RFS) in Wake County, NC. RFS is a non-profit organization that connects older adults with resources to maximize their choices for independence, comfort, safety, security, and well-being. Ann Marie works in low-income senior communities and two area senior centers to assist with resources and develop programs that promote all aspects of wellness for older adults.

Her initial career was in public relations and marketing. Ann Marie sought a master’s degree in gerontology because of caregiving roles for family members. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s Master of Gerontology program in December 2021. Ann Marie’s focus of interest in aging services is the connection between brain health and wellness.

During her master’s program, she worked on the Physical Activity and Alzheimer’s Disease 2 (PAAD-2) research study under the direction of principal investigator Jennifer Etnier, Ph.D. Ann Marie utilized her previous career experience and gerontology coursework to develop and implement participant recruitment strategies. Also certified in group exercise and senior fitness, she led two cohorts in the exercise protocol of the study.

Yuliana Rodriguez

Yuliana Rodriguez, PhD (‘08 BS, ‘11 MS, ‘15 PhD)

Human Development and Family Studies

Dr. Yuliana Rodriguez earned her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Human Development and Family Studies program within the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she teaches courses that include human lifespan development and family relationships.

Dr. Rodriguez is also the Senior Honors Thesis Program Director for the School of Education and provides supervision to undergraduate majors in the completion of their internship capstone experience. Her research focuses on the experiences of immigrant families living in the US with particular interest on sociocultural factors influencing Mexican immigrant families. Dr. Rodriguez is a certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) that enhances her educational outreach efforts in areas such as marital and relationship education.

As part of her research, teaching, and service efforts, she has been honored with various awards including the Empowerment award given by the Carolina Latinx Center (CLC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – an award recognizing a person who has built scholarship beyond the classroom and developed an awareness and celebration about Latinx identity; the Latino Community Coalition of Guilford County’s Notable Latinos of the Triad Award- an award designated to recognize community members who make a significant impact on the community locally; and the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award for Leadership and Service to UNC-Greensboro for her research and community involvement focused on meeting the needs of NC’s burgeoning Latinx community that emphasized supporting families in a way that helped pave the way for college readiness and attendance among Latinx youth.

Katie Wurst

Katie Wurst, EdD (‘18 EdD)


Dr. Katie Wurst, is a 2018 graduate of the EdD in Kinesiology program at UNCG. Katie recently changed jobs as the head coach of Women’s Rugby at Queens University of Charlotte. She is now the Assistant Athletic Director at Warren Wilson College, and still working hard to advance the sport, while also being a new mom to a 5 month old daughter Lila.

Katie’s love for rugby began over 20years ago and she has worked tirelessly to promote the sport and make it accessible to all. She has truly emerged as a leader at all levels of the sport. Her promotion of the sport has been locally, nationally, and internationally and includes building a rugby program in Lao. Her work at colleges and universities goes beyond Queens University as she coached at Elon, University of Minnesota, University Colorado, and the University of South Carolina.

Katie currently serves as the World Rugby coaching educator, where she has become an integral part of the organization and regularly advocates for increased support of rugby. In addition, Katie works as a broadcaster and event manager for USA Rugby. Katie has truly emerged as a leader for the promotion and development of rugby in the United States.

She has helped to grow rugby participation and the local fan base and these efforts continue. Katie is a go-to face when seeking advice about how to start and run a program, and ensure it is inclusive and culturally appropriate. Her enthusiasm for the sport is amazing and contagious. Give Katie a few minutes and she will have you convinced that a rugby team is an excellent next step.

Jessica Pastuf

Jessica Pastuf (‘18 BS)


Jessica completed her BS degree in Nutrition at UNCG in 2018 before pursuing her master’s degree in sport nutrition and dietetic internship at the University of Utah and has been credentialed as a Registered, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist since 2021. She currently works as a Performance Dietitian for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida.

While pursuing her education, Jessica had an opportunity to work with the US Ski and Snowboarding team in Park City, UT and then with the Utah Jazz NBA basketball team in Salt Lake City. These experiences lead to her current job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where she earned her super bowl ring with their championship in 2020. She has always enjoyed outdoor sports and developed keen interests in cooking, culinary nutrition and food service during her graduate studies.

Her current position is the perfect marriage of these life passions where she executes the daily operations of an NFL fueling program, oversees game day and travel nutrition requirements, performs nutrition assessment, provides evidence-based counseling and education for athletes, formulates personalized nutrition strategies to support athletes’ achievement goals, reviews nutrition products and supplements for quality of ingredients, safety and effectiveness and serves as the point of contact for intern development and training.

Despite her numerous professional commitments, she always finds time to say “yes” to helping with the Nutrition program at UNCG. She has set the standard of achievement for other Nutrition Department graduates and truly understands the value of giving back to her alma mater. She is most deserving of this recognition.

Thomas Martinek, Jr.

Thomas Martinek, Jr. (‘11 MS)

Peace and Conflict Studies

Peace and Conflict Studies alumni, Tom Martinek, Jr. is a prime candidate for the Alumni HHS Pacesetter Award. Since graduating with a MA from the PCS Department in 2012, Tom has been both a colleague and critical supporter of the PCS Department and curriculum offerings. Tom graduated with a BA in Anthropology (1997) and an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies (2012), both from UNCG.

Since graduating with his master’s degree he has taught PCS 212 (now PCS 112) “Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies” seven times. He always received great teaching evaluations and we would have used him more, but since he was the Associate Director of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs at UNCG during this time he was unable to teach more than one class a year. Tom is one of those teachers that just thrives in the classroom. Students in his classes repeatedly commented on his enthusiasm and passion for the subject on their teaching evaluations.

Although holding a fulltime job, Tom was always enthusiastically willing to help the department by teaching as an Adjunct and to promote Peace and Conflict Studies as a discipline. He regularly invited faculty into his class to give presentations and provide his students with a well-rounded and broad set of ideas about the broad field of Peace and Conflict Studies. Humble and accessible, Tom is the epitome of a peace practitioner.

In the spring of 2020, as UNCG had to pivot mid-semester to online teaching, Tom Sought out extra-training and advising on online instruction, revamped his syllabus, and pivoted his face-to-face course very successfully to an online format. Tom Had never taught online before and this was a very time-consuming, stressful situation for him to address. The pandemic cost him many hours of extra work to learn new skills and to restructure the course while teaching it. He did so with nary a complaint and with true dedication to providing his students with a high-quality learning experience.

Tom’s positive attitude and commitment through this difficult time was very impressive and articulates why we in the PCS Department consider him a pacesetter. Tom’s expertise in international education and intercultural awareness impacted many UNCG students during his time working in the IPC. He is a certified administrator/trainer for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and has mentored many future leaders on the importance of intercultural experiences.

Since leaving his UNCG position in March 2021, Tom has been doing a lot of networking and meeting with people in the community, mostly in the nonprofit world and working on issues of social justice in our community. He is currently searching for the next position that will have a major impact on positive social change. In this networking and exploring phase, Tom has been doing lots of volunteer work with Church World Services, the Piedmont Land Conservancy, and NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad.

He has expressed that he especially enjoyed his involvement with NCCJ and their youth programming (Anytown, Youth Leadership Conference, Anyday programs, and STARR). Of these experiences Tom says “NCCJ have been the most rewarding” and has allowed him to work with two other PCS MA graduates (one of which is a former PCS Pacesetter himself)!

Gabrielle Evans

Gabrielle Evans (‘14 BS, ‘16 MPH)

Public Health Education

Gabrielle S. Evans, PhD(c),MPH, CHES(she/her) is a sexuality educator and researcher from North Carolina and a proud citizen of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe. Gabrielle is the co-founder of The Minority Sex Report, LLC, an award winning platform, whose mission is to provide representation in sexuality education. The Minority Sex Report, LLC also addresses barriers to achieving optimal sexual health for communities of color as well as intersectional inequalities faced by Black and Native communities.

Gabrielle has taught comprehensive sexuality education since 2016, facilitating programs for faith-based organizations, providers, and Native American adolescents. Gabrielle is also a doctoral candidate at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston pursuing her Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences. Her research focuses on reducing sexual health disparities among Native American populations and analyzing the impact of historical and present traumas on Native sexual health. As a sexuality educator and researcher, Gabrielle hopes to expand research on Native sexual well-being.