Academic Services for Student-Athletes
ASSA Staff
Dr. Eric A. Wood
Dr. Eric A. Wood
Director/Senior Associate AD
407-823-5357

Eric Wood came to UCF from Arkansas, where he served as Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services since 2011. In his final role, he was a member of the Razorbacks’ Executive Staff, overseeing the Office of Student-Athlete Services. Wood added sport administrator duties and Deputy Title IX Coordinator duties in 2014. He began his tenure with the Razorbacks in 2009 as Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development.

In addition to responsibility for UCF’s office of Academic Services for Student-Athletes, Wood will also serve as sport administrator for men’s basketball and oversee the Knights’ strength and conditioning department.

With Wood leading the Office of Student-Athlete Services, Arkansas recently recorded its 12th straight semester with an average GPA of 3.0 or better. This past fall, Razorback student-athletes compiled a department-record 3.25 GPA, with 65 percent of the 460 Arkansas student-athletes at or above a 3.0 and 63 student-athletes recording a perfect 4.0 for the term. Sixteen of the Razorbacks’ 19 teams were above a 3.0 GPA last semester.

Wood was responsible for leadership of eight academic counselors, three learning specialists, three student-athlete development staff members and 11 graduate assistants at Arkansas. He also provided oversight of the Razorback Leadership Academy, the Career Development Program, the Athletic Directors Council on Diversity and a newly-created Office of Student-Athlete Scholarship and Awards. Nationally, Wood serves on the National Association of Athletic Academic Advisors (N4A) Board of Directors and is currently in his first of a two-year term as N4A Director of Region II.

Prior to joining the Razorbacks, Wood was the Director of Student-Athlete Programs and Compliance with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Wood spent a year at Wake Forest University as the Assistant Director of Compliance and worked at the University of New Haven as the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Development. Prior to New Haven, he was selected as one of 12 interns nationally for the NCAA’s internship program with the Governance Group immediately following two years as a graduate assistant with Compliance Services in the Clemson University Athletics Department.

A 2009 graduate of the NCAA’s Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males and Females, Wood served as a facilitator for three national and two regional NCAA leadership conferences, chair of the NCAA Student Athlete Affairs Group, a member of the Division I-A Athletic Director’s Student Task Force and most recently as a member of the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) Awards Committee.

Wood is a 1998 graduate of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., earning his degree in psychology. He was a three-year starter at cornerback for the Pioneer football team earning the Medal of Merit, the athletic department’s highest honor, as the student-athlete of the year his senior year. Wood completed his master’s degree in counseling and guidance services at Clemson University in May 2000 and is currently working on his Doctorate in Recreation and Sport Management at the University of Arkansas in the College of Education and Health Professions.

Wood is married to his wife Celia and they have 3 kids; Eliana (5), Nia (3), Alyssa (1).

Tara Helton
Tara Helton
Associate Director, Lead Football Advisor
407-823-3980

Tara Helton joined the ASSA staff as Associate Director in August 2016. At UCF, Tara serves as the lead advisor for the football team and helps to oversee the day to day operations of the program. Prior to UCF, Tara spent eleven years at Marshall University where she was the Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services, responsible for the daily operation and oversight of the Buck Harless Student Athlete Program.

Under her direction, Marshall’s athletic teams continuously improved their grade point average, graduation success rate and APR. More than 50% of all student athletes earned a 3.00 or higher every term beginning in the 2006 academic year until her departure in June 2016. Marshall athletes were also well represented at the Conference level placing in the top six in the number of recipients on the Commissioners Honor Roll. For the 2015-16 school year, Marshall finished first in Conference USA with 60 recipients of the Commissioners Academic Medal, which recognizes student athletes who have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher. In addition to her academic duties, Tara was also an adjunct faculty member in the undergraduate Counseling Education Program for eight years.

Tara received both her Bachelors of Art and Master’s degree from Marshall University, and is married to fellow UCF employee Brad Helton. They have two children, Ryan (18) and Haley (15).

Jennifer Alger
Jennifer Alger
Assistant Director, M Basketball, Baseball
407-823-2427

Jennifer Alger has been with Academic Services for Student-Athletes since January 2004. As an Assistant Director, she is the lead advisor for the men's basketball and baseball teams. Additionally, she is the unit’s institutional plan coordinator, compiling a yearly report based on data analysis of student learning outcomes, to continually measure and improve the effectiveness of ASSA. She began her career at UCF as an assistant academic advisor for the football team while earning her MBA and Master's degree in Sport Business Management from the DeVos Sport Business Management Program in 2005.

Under Jennifer's direction during the 2008-2009 academic year, baseball received the Conference USA Institutional Excellence Award which is given to the C-USA sports with the highest GPA for the current academic year. In addition, they also received UCF's highest team GPA award for male sports. During the 2009-2010 academic year men's basketball received the Conference USA Institutional Excellence Award as well as UCF's Most Improved Academic Award, and during the 2014-2015 academic year they were honored with the AAC Team Academic Excellence Award.

Jennifer is a member of the National Association of Athletic Academic Advisors (N4A) and has presented at the national level three times. She has also presented at the NCAS Conference as well as the Black Coaches and Administrators National Convention and Expo. In addition, she works together with UCF College of Education as an adjunct professor in Strategies for Success in College (SLS 1501).

Jennifer is originally from Longwood, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from St. John's University (NY) while also serving as a member of the swim team, competing in the individual medley and distance freestyle events. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys swimming, boating and spending time with her family and friends.

Favorite Quote: "A decade after the average athlete graduates, everyone will have forgotten when & where he played. But, every time he speaks, everyone will know whether he was educated." -Rev. Theodore Hesburgh (Notre Dame)

Elena Paolini
Elena Paolini
Assistant Director, W Basketball, W Soccer
407-823-1515

Elena Paolini joined the Academic Services for Student-Athletes staff as an Assistant Director in August 2016. At UCF, Elena serves as the lead advisor for the women's basketball and women's soccer teams. Additionally, she oversees the Developing Athletic Academic Professionals (DAAP) Program, which prepares the ASSA's Graduate Assistants and Interns for full-time positions in athletic academic advising.

Elena came to UCF from American University, in Washington, DC, where she was an Academic and Life Skills Counselor, working primarily with the women's soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams. Additionally, she had full oversight of the department's Life Skills program and was charged with the continuous development of AU's first-year, leadership, personal and professional development programming. Prior to AU, Elena spent two years as an Academic and Life Skills Coordinator within the Department of Athletics at Syracuse University, in Syracuse, NY.

Elena began her career in athletic academic support in 2010, as an Academic and Student Services Intern for the University of California, Los Angeles. She has since held similar positions at the University of Louisville and the University of South Florida.

A native of Tampa, Fla., Elena earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in December 2009, majoring in family, youth and community sciences with a minor in education. During her time at UF, she was a member of the all-girl competitive cheerleading team and an employee in the UAA Ticket Office. Elena received her master's degree in sport administration from the University of Louisville in May 2013.

Favorite Quote: "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Start with the WHY!" - Simon Sinek

Carly Place
Carly Place
Academic Advisor - M Tennis, M Golf, Volleyball
407-823-0550

Carly Place joined the full time staff at Academic Services for Student Athletes in June 2016. She serves as the academic advisor for Volleyball, Men’s Golf and Men’s Tennis, and also coordinates Orientation and the CAP program. Previously, she worked as an intern with ASSA starting in June 2015. During this role she worked with men’s basketball, baseball and served as the Assistant Tutor Coordinator.

Prior to joining UCF, Carly attended Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. While there, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport Management and Minor in Communications. She also played Divison I tennis for all four years and was a SAAC representative. Carly went on to receive her Master’s of Business Administration from East Carolina University. She worked in the Office of Student Development during her time at East Carolina University as the Assistant Tutor Coordinator, as well as an Assistant Academic Advisor with the Softball and Swimming and Diving Teams.

Favorite Quote: “Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.” – Roger Babson

Derick Brown
Derick Brown
Learning Specialist - Basketball/Academic Advisor - Track & Field, Cross Country
407-823-1520

Derick Brown joined UCF in fall 2012 as a strategic tutor and then intern with the Football program. He is now entering his second year as a Learning Specialist and Academic Advisor for the Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country program. Prior to UCF Derick spent five years at the University of Arkansas as graduate assistant working primarily with the Men's Basketball program.

Brown earned Academic All-Conference accolades while playing basketball at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. He completed his master's degree in Recreation and Sports Management at the University of Arkansas in 2009. He is currently working towards completing his doctorate in the same field.

Derick is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas and has a lively daughter, Azaria Brown. His mother and older brother live in Arkansas, while his older sister resides in Texas. In his spare he likes to spend time with his wife and daughter, play basketball, cook, and play the PlayStation4. Derick is also an active member of the N4A.

Kirby Lee
Kirby Lee
Interim Academic Advisor - Football, W Tennis
407-823-1969

Kirby Lee joined the full time staff at Academic Services for Student-Athletes (ASSA) in January 2017 as a Learning Specialist and Academic Advisor for Women’s Tennis. He had previously worked at ASSA as a Graduate Assistant, working primarily with football since August 2015. Kirby is working toward earning a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from UCF, which will allow him to further serve student-athletes within a capacity that fosters personal growth and development.

Prior to UCF, Kirby graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Management. He also worked with the University of Michigan Academic Success Program during his final two undergraduate years, assisting student-athletes as the Lead Building Supervisor to ensure for a productive study hall environment. Kirby is also an active member of N4A.

Favorite Quote: “Speaking to five thousand people is no more important than quietly teaching one.” – Tony Dungy

Lucas Noboa
Lucas Noboa
Academic Advisor - Men's Soccer, Women's Golf / Tutor Coordinator
407-823-1521

Lucas Noboa has been with Academic Services for Student-Athletes (ASSA) since Fall 2015, he is currently serving as the Academic Advisor for the women's golf and men's soccer teams. In addition to his duties as an academic advisor, Lucas coordinates all tutorial services for student-athletes.

Prior to his arrival at the University of Central Florida, Lucas served as a Student-Athlete Academic/Tutoring Coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) working with the Men’s Golf and Field Hockey programs and coordinating all tutorial services for student-athletes. He is a former men’s soccer student-athlete and received his Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at Barry University in 2013.

Lucas is an active member of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A), receiving his Individual Certification in 2012.

Nicci Hopps
Nicci Hopps
Academic Advisor - Rowing, Softball
407-823-3840

Nicci Hopps joined the full-time staff in November 2015 as the advisor for the rowing and softball teams. She had been a graduate assistant with Academic Services for Student-Athletes since August 2014. As a graduate assistant she worked with men’s and women’s tennis, men’s golf, women’s volleyball, and softball. During her time here at UCF, Nicci has earned her MBA and is working toward earning a Master’s in Sports Business Management from the DeVos Sport Business Management Program.

Prior to UCF, Nicci graduated from Southeastern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management with a minor in coaching and was a student-athlete on the softball team and a team captain for two years. Nicci was born and raised in Tampa, FL.

In her free time, Nicci enjoys working out, attending Celebration Church, and spending time with family and friends.

Favorite Quote: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” –Tim Notke

Traci Bonds
Traci Bonds
Academic Advisor - Football
407-823-1525

Traci Bonds joined the UCF family in October of 2015 as one of the Academic Advisors for the Knights football program. As a full time staff member with Academic Services for Student-Athletes (ASSA), Traci works directly with her defensive players to encourage academic success and promote life-long learning. Traci supplements her advisor duties by also serving as ASSA's Academic Mentor Program (AMP) Coordinator.

Traci comes to UCF from the University of Kentucky where she worked as an Academic Services Assistant to the Kentucky football team. In 2014, Traci earned her Masters of Education in Sport Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University while helping to build Richard Bland Community College's first ever academic success program for student-athletes.

When time permits, Traci enjoys spending time at the beach, brunch-ing, and eating as much Jeremiah's as possible.

Favorite Quote: "The reward of a thing well done is to have done it." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Danielle Traylor
Danielle Traylor
Officer Manager / HR Liaison
407-823-5896
Academic Assistants (DAAP Program)
Amanda Seifert
Amanda Seifert
Assistant Academic Advisor
407-823-5895

Amanda Seifert joined the staff at Academic Services for Student-Athletes in June 2016 as an Assistant Academic Advisor for student-athletes.

Kierstyn Stevens
Kierstyn Stevens
Assistant Academic Advisor
407-823-5895

Kierstyn Stevens joined the staff at Academic Services for Student-Athletes in July 2016 as an Assistant Academic Advisor for student-athletes.

Marissa Tashenberg
Marissa Tashenberg
Assistant Academic Advisor
407-823-5895

Marissa Tashenberg joined the staff at Academic Services for Student-Athletes in June 2016 as an Assistant Academic Advisor for student-athletes.

Graduate Assistants and Academic Mentors
Dianna Lampitt
Dianna Lampitt
Graduate Assistant / Tutor Coordinator Assistant
407-823-5895
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Danilsa Andujar
Graduate Assistant
407-823-5895
Taylor Gillie
Taylor Gillie
Graduate Assistant
407-823-5895

Hours Mon-Fri: 8am - 5pm
Phone 407-823-5895
Fax 407-823-3761
Email assa@ucf.edu
Location Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership, Room 105

Computer Lab / Study Hall Fall/Spring

Hours Mon-Thurs: 8am - 9pm
Fri: 8am - 5pm
Sun: 6pm - 9pm

Computer Lab / Study Hall Summer

Hours Mon-Thurs: 8am - 5pm

Tutor Room Appointment

Hours Mon-Thurs: 8am - 9pm
Fri: 8am - 5pm
Sun: 6pm - 9pm
Phone (407) 823-5895

Tutor Rooms Walk-Ins

Hours Sun-Thurs, 6pm - 9pm (Fall/Spring)
Phone (407) 823-5895