About Us

What is Career Connect?

In September 2016, the University of North Texas (UNT) selected UNT Career Connect—hereafter referred to as Connect—as the Quality Enhancement Plan for the 2016 to 2020 school years. Based on the experiential learning framework of John Dewey (1916), Kolb (1984) and Kuh (2010), Connect works collaboratively with UNT faculty, staff, and community partners to enhance, assess, and showcase UNT students' marketable skills by engaging them in high-impact, [1]experiential learning, reflection, and ePortfolio activities in and outside of the classroom.

Career Connect “connects” UNT faculty, staff, students, and the community in mutually beneficial partnerships through, for example, internships, volunteer work, or study abroad. Career Connect (1) encourages UNT faculty, staff, and students to think intentionally about the job skills students learn within UNT curricular and co-curricular activities and (2) provides students opportunities to work and learn in “real-life” settings and use their UNT ePortfolios to target, evaluate, and showcase their skills in written and oral communication, critical thinking, and teamwork.

[1]Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Meet the Team

Dr. Mike Simmons
Assistant Vice President - Academic Affairs
Career Connect Director

 I am a native of West Virginia, attended college in Tennessee (King College, BS History) and graduate school in North Carolina (UNC Chapel   Hill - M.P.A) then moved to Texas to complete the Ph.D. degree from UTA in the field of public administration and urban affairs. 

After an initial career spanning 10 years of public policy, government and political work, I led a statewide education non-profit agency. While government and public administration is still my academic field and area of interest, I've now worked in or around higher education   for almost 20 years. In several roles at Marshall University, Texas Women’s University, and now at UNT, I’ve worked actively in educational  innovation, faculty support, online learning, assessment and “other duties as assigned”.  I am proud that I have taught at least one course  as an adjunct almost every semester for 20 years.  My work with UNT Career Connect is a combination of the experiences I've had,  bringing together teaching, assessment, community engagement, and technology.


Adam Wear
ePortfolio Coordinator

 I currently serve as the ePortfolio Coordinator for Career Connect. I am a second year PhD student in the Higher Education program   at UNT. I currently hold a BS in English, Education, and Education Psychology from Mississippi State University and a Master’s in   English Literature from the University of Alabama and hope to practice and promote an attitude of servant leadership in higher   education.




Meena Naik
Faculty & Staff Development Coordinator

 A Texas-transplant, I came to UNT from UC San Diego where I worked in the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services.   Having lived on both coasts, I received my BS from UC San Diego in Physiology and Neuroscience, and my MS in Higher Education   and Student Development. I am now into my second year as a PhD student in UNT’s Educational Psychology program.

 Outside of my work and student life, I have spent the last decade volunteering in a variety of roles in the Shia Ismaili community.   Starting as a novice and untrained volunteer teacher, I worked my way into a Teacher Educator program, and most recently led the   National Teaching Quality team in the development instructional coaching training models to better equip our volunteers as   educators.

 My passion for working in higher education comes from a desire to support student development by helping them recognize relevancy in their curricular and co-curricular experiences while in college. My experiences in student affairs and academic support, and the variety of volunteer experiences I hold in instruction and training, has led me to my current role serving as the Faculty & Staff Development Coordinator with Career Connect.

Scott Peecksen
Outcomes Assessment Specialist

I grew up in the Low Country and received my undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina and then traveled west to the University of Arizona for a doctorate degree in Family Studies and Human Development with an emphasis on program evaluation. Career research opportunities took me to the University of Texas and then to a Houston-based, research and evaluation firm through early 2017.

In March 2017, UNT hired me as the Outcomes Assessment Specialist for Career Connect. I bring more than 15 years of experience in research and evaluation designs, data collection, quality assurance, statistical analysis, and report writing to this position. I am also a certified What Works Clearinghouse research reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education.

I am excited to apply my evaluation knowledge and skills to the field of higher education and Career Connect. Ultimately, I look forward to benefiting UNT students through Career Connect work and contributing to the national discussion on how to identify and document marketable skills and student learning outcomes in through a rigorous and valid assessment. 

Melanie Mitchell
Faculty & Staff Development Coordinator 

I currently serve as the Faculty & Staff Development Coordinator for Career Connect. I received my BS in Interdisciplinary Studies and my Master’s in Educational Administration both from UNT. Before coming back to UNT, I spent time in the elementary and secondary education as a teacher, instructional coach, and administrator. I have also served as an adjunct instructor for North Lake College. I am excited to promote student development through experiential learning.




Missy McCormick,
Administrative Coordinator

As a Doctoral Candidate in the Higher Education Program at the University of North Texas, my research interests are in researching student success. As well as being a student at the university, I work half-time in the UNT Career Connect Office. In my position, as the Administrative Associate, I assist with managing various office functions and planning Connect events. Aside from my roles at UNT, I love to work in my garden, do volunteer work, and go on adventures with my family.




Jordan Rogers
Graduate Student Assistant

 I am currently a doctoral student in the counseling program at the University of North Texas. I joined the Career Connect team as a graduate   research assistant in order to support the research and implementation of the reflection component of Career Connect. Because of my   formal training as a counselor, my time in this office has given me an opportunity to truly value the importance of meeting students where   they are in their college experience. I hope to promote experiential opportunities that engage and challenge students to learn and grow!


Marla Baltazar
​Graduate Student Assistant

 I am a graduate research assistant (GRA)  at Career Connect. I earned my B.S in Applied Behavior Analysis and Psychology from UNT and am   currently pursuing my MS in Behavior Analysis.  During my time at UNT I have had the opportunity to work with students in different   capacities, as a peer mentor, teaching assistant, and advisor. In my new role as a GRA, I am excited to assist students make connections   between their experiences and ultimate goals, by supporting Career Connect’s research and activities.




Our Mission

Enhance, assess, and showcase UNT students' marketable skills by engaging them in existing or new experiential learning, reflection, and ePortfolio activities provided by UNT faculty, staff, and community partners.

Advisory Group

Dr. Lauren Eutsler’s (Assistant Professor, Teacher Education and Administration) research focuses on using portable technology to support children’s literacy development and training pre-service teachers to effectively use portable technology to motivate, enhance, and improve children's literacy learning. At UNT, she teaches reading and elementary education courses in the undergraduate program. For example, she is currently teaching a Career Connect course that examines theoretical and practical aspects of emergent literacy and focuses on practices that foster motivated, strategic readers and writers.

Dr. Lauren Cross (Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies) serves as a core faculty member for the Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies program. Her research addresses interdisciplinary topics within the visual arts and design, including critical theory, social practice, art entrepreneurship/arts administration, curatorial studies/museum studies, multiculturalism, and women's and gender studies.

Dr. Laura Keyes (Lecturer, Public Administration) teaches art history and art education. Her students have worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters, at their request, to assist them in growing their volunteer recruitment, volunteer retention, and marketing strategies. Students applied the concepts from the class as it relates to organization management and volunteer mobilization to help the organization. Students completed surveys, analyzed the data, created formal proposals, and eventually presented this directly to leadership from Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Dallas. Sharma.

Dr. Rachita Sharma’s (Lecturer, Rehabilitation & Health Services) research interests include a focus on transition issues faced by Veterans in Higher Education, use of complementary and alternative medicine techniques in mental health treatment, resilience, positive psychology, mental health counseling, mindfulness, provider self-care, and multicultural competencies in counseling. She is currently teaching a Career Connect course that provides students with supervised practical experience in appropriate rehabilitation settings and emphasizes the application of course concepts and principles, and applicable skills.

Doryce Judd (Lecturer, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation) has taught a variety of courses from undergraduate English to Accounting, Math, and Kinesiology at UNT. She is currently teaching a Career Connect course that involves the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive worksite health promotion program in a corporate setting. The course includes the role of the health and productivity manager in developing worksite health promotion programs within a corporate setting. Ms. Judd’s research interest include a focus on Intention of exercise for at-risk and sedentary populations.

Dr. Talia Weltman-Cisneros (Assistant Professor, Spanish) teaches Spanish for Social Services and had students partner with United Way of Denton and partner organizations to help with translation and to welcome clients when they come in for tax preparation. Students benefited by communicating in Spanish in real-life situations and by better understanding the role of these organizations within the community. Dr. Weltman-Cisneros also required students to write reflections on their experience in Spanish throughout the semester, easily bringing together curricular goals with the service-learning experience.

James Thurman (Associate Professor, Studio Art) is a 2018 Distinguished Connect Partner and led a large multi-section course (ART 1450) with instructors and had students work with different thrift stores in Denton to obtain supplies students could up-cycle. Students were given an objective, for example, to design a costume. They used scrap materials to create something meaningful and valuable. Once the project was complete, students returned their finished product to the source. They submitted their products to the ePortfolio with their design process while recognizing the role of being able to return their upcycled product back to the community.