Your road to academic success

Our Staff

Our dedicated staff offers a multilayered system of support to FASTrack students resulting in a holistic approach that helps students in every aspect of life as they make the transition to college.

Our academic advisor meets with each FASTrack student during orientation to schedule classes and to assist students with the initial adjustment to the university.  The academic advisor is available during the semester to review progress toward completing the proposed academic program, and to discuss grades and other performance indicators.

Academic mentors foster relationships with each FASTrack student providing a foundation of support for any challenges first-year students face. Academic mentors track student absences and grades, ensuring student accountability, and they offer one-on-one support to help students manage time, develop effective study skills and balance schoolwork with other activities.

“My academic mentor doesn’t just care about the classroom. She cares about her students personally. She has made a huge impact on me already.” –FASTrack student


Stephen Monroe

FASTrack Director
Assistant Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Office: Ventress Hall

Dr. Monroe began his involvement in FASTrack during the pilot year, serving as the sole writing instructor. Since then, he has helped grow this great program, and has loved being involved.  “We have smart, hardworking students and a wonderful team of compassionate educators.”

Jackie Certion

FASTrack Academic Advisor
Office: 308 Howry Hall

As Senior Academic Advisor for the FASTrack program, Jackie serves as the primary guidance for the students’ academic path.  As a member of the FASTrack team, she understands and knows the importance of being a major support system for each student.  “My willingness to GIVE coupled with their desire to LEARN has become my daily motivation.”

LaTanya Dixon

FASTrack Academic Mentor
Office: 229 Hume Hall

LaTanya enjoys perusing Pinterest, trying new crafts and recipes, relaxing when she gets free time (which can be rare), and volunteering. Her voice was once used to record local radio show commercials.

Heather Hedgepeth

Administrative Coordinator
Office: 200 Ventress Hall

Heather is a newcomer to the Oxford, MS area, previously residing in Atlanta, GA. She assists the Director with FASTrack related questions, projects and daily functions. She’s a newlywed and enjoys spending quality time hiking and traveling with her husband and her dog, Lucy.

Susan Nicholas
Susan Nicholas

FASTrack Academic Mentor
Program Coordinator, North Mississippi VISTA Project
Office: 231 Hume Hall

Susan earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Mississippi. In addition to her role as academic mentor in the FASTrack program, she coordinates the North Mississippi VISTA Project and volunteers for the Collegiate Recovery Community at UM, supporting students who are in recovery from substance use disorder.

Doug Odom

Americorps VISTA
Office: 225 Hume Hall

Doug graduated with a B.A. in English and Classics from the University of Mississippi in 2013. He then spent a year travelling the world crossing things off his bucket list, most notably dog sledding in Canada and hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. He is now serving a year with Americorps before pursuing graduate school.

Ben Piñon
Ben Piñon

FASTrack Academic Mentor
Office: 225 Hume Hall

Ben has been mentoring, tutoring, teaching, or counseling students of various ages ever since his college days. When he isn’t playing basketball, Ben volunteers his time teaching afterschool cooking classes to local children. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at the University of Mississippi.

Sarah Smitherman.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications
Sarah Smitherman

FASTrack Academic Mentor
FASTrack Peer Mentor Program Director
Office: 227 Hume Hall

Prior to coming to UM in 2013, Sarah spent the last twelve years teaching speech and interpersonal communication at various universities in Virginia, Georgia, and Florida. Her academic interests include interpersonal/gender communication, student development, and public service.