Seton Hall University
Mooney Hall

Academic Advisors

In addition to their assigned Peer Advisor, students meet their assigned Academic Advisor from the Center for Academic Success program at New Student Orientation.

  • The Academic Advisor is a professional advisor who serves as a professor in the University Life course, as a resource for many questions about the curriculum, and as a counselor to help freshmen plan their course of study.
  • The Academic Advisor helps students clarify personal, academic and career goals.
  • Together, the Academic Advisor and the student examine these goals and use them to shape an academic plan and semester coursework.
  • As a student's academic and perhaps personal issues arise, Academic Advisors are available to counsel the students.
  • Academic Advisors make students aware and encourage students to take advantage of the many Seton Hall University resources available on campus, such as the Academic Resource Center, the Career Center, Health Services and Counseling Services, and the Campus Ministry, to make the first year of college a great success.

Our program's goal is to assist students in fulfilling their potential while making realistic choices when choosing their major. The students' choices should always reflect both their interests and abilities.

Meet our Academic Advisors

Nicole Battaglia
Nicole BattagliaNicole A. Battaglia earned both her B.A. in Psychology and her M.A.E. in College Student Personnel Administration from Seton Hall University. While attending Seton Hall, Nicole worked as a Peer Advisor for the Center for Academic Success and was a Brother of the Service Fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Continuing her passion for service Nicole traveled with DOVE to El Salvador where she learned the meaning behind, "the best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others"- Gandhi. After completing her M.A., Nicole went on to Wagner College where she was the Academic Resource Coordinator for Student-Athletes and then the Assistant Athletic Director for Student Services.

Professor Battaglia has returned to Seton Hall as the Academic Advisor for the Fast Forward Program. She is so excited about returning to her Alma Matter and looks forward to helping students reach their goals. Professor Battaglia encourages her students to constantly challenge themselves to be better than they were yesterday. In the words of Pelé "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing." Professor Battaglia can be reached by phone at (973) 275-4809 or by email at Nicole.Battaglia@shu.edu.

Joan Brennan
Photo of Joan BrennanAn employee since 1991, Joan Brennan joined the Center for Academic Success Program in 1999. She earned a Master of Public Administration degree as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social & Behavioral Sciences from Seton Hall University. Joan is the designated advisor for students who have been accepted into the Joint Bachelor's/M.D. Program and a secondary advisor for students who have an interest in pre-medical professions. She helps students with understanding the curriculum and assists in course selection. She also provides academic support to Veterans. What is Joan's advice to students? "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Joan can be reached by phone at (973) 275-2595 or e-mail at Joan.Brennan@shu.edu to answer questions and to discuss goals and strategies for success. Her office is located in Mooney Hall 14.

Marisa Case
Marisa CaseMarisa Case is delighted to be a team member of the Department of the Center for Academic Success at Seton Hall University. Professor Case earned her B.A. from Glassboro State College and her M.F.A. from the Catholic University of America.

Understanding the significant successes and challenges that students face during their university years, she likes to remind her first year students to focus on a core value system that will support them throughout their lives – regardless of course of study or choice of career. What matters is a true sense of an authentic academic, spiritual, and social self. "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." Aristotle. You can contact Professor Case at (973) 761-9614 or Marisa.Case@shu.edu. Professor Case is located in Mooney Hall Room 12.

Robin Cunningham
Robin CunninghamRobin Cunningham graduated from Seton Hall with a B.A. in English, a M.A. in Counseling and an Ed.S in Secondary Education. From 1984 to 2003, Dean Cunningham was the Director of Academic Support Services for student athletes at Seton Hall. In 2004, she moved over to the Center for Academic Success to work with the general freshman population. In 2006, Dean Cunningham became the Director of the Seton Summer Scholars program, in 2010 she was named Associate Dean of Freshman Studies, served as Interim Vice President of Student Services, and has returned as the Dean of Freshman Studies. She enjoys working with students, and teaching is one of her great passions.

Dean Cunningham has been recognized numerous times for her service to the university with such honors as the retirement of her basketball jersey, her induction into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame, receiving the Alumni Association's Many Are One Humanitarian Award and most recently receiving the university's McQuaid Medal. Dean Cunningham's favorite saying is: "It's not where you start; it's where you finish." Dean Cunningham can be reached at (973) 275-2159 or Robin.Cunningham@shu.edu.

Jacqueline Galler 
Jacqueline Galler, Freshman Studies Headshot x222Jacqueline Galler (DeBenedetto) earned her B.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Seton Hall University. She specialized in with working with students with disabilities and taught in a Pre-School Special Education classroom for one year. She recently graduated from Seton Hall with her M.A.E. in Instructional Design and Technology while working as a Center for Academic Success First-Year Advisor and Placement Test Coordinator in the Center for Academic Success Department. Currently, Jacqueline is working towards her Doctor of Education in Higher Education, Administration and Policy. Working with undergraduate students is a passion of hers as she hopes to inspire students to take full advantage of the many opportunities that Seton Hall has to offer.

Aside from working as a the Center for Academic Success First-Year Advisor, Jacqueline enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading, and traveling. She can be reached at debeneja@shu.edu or at (973) 275-2762 and is located in Mooney Hall Room 14.

Megan Hall
Headshot of Megan HallMegan graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in History. She joined the Center for Academic Success program as an advisor in the Sophomore Center. Through the Sophomore Center, Megan provides students with support and guidance during their second year at Seton Hall. Sophomore year is a time for students to focus on academics, to plan ahead, and to continue to stay involved on campus. With events both social and academic in nature, the Sophomore Center offers a community in which students can reach their fullest potential. Megan is dedicated to helping students succeed and to prepare them for their future by connecting them to a variety of campus resources. She also advises students with 30 or more credits who have yet to declare their major. Megan can be reached at hallmegb@shu.edu or (973) 275-2105.

Lisa Hawryluk
Lisa RobinsonLisa Hawryluk earned her Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education from Oklahoma State University. She specialized in the areas of English and Social Studies and taught high school English before joining the Center for Academic Success team. Lisa went on to earn her Master's degree in Strategic Communication from Seton Hall University.

Working and interacting with students has always been a passion of hers, and she really enjoys mentoring and advising Seton Hall's freshmen students. Lisa also works as a Transfer Student advisor in the Transfer Student Center, and her door is always open. Her main goal is to help all students transition successfully and become part of the SHU Pirate family. Lisa's favorite quote to live by is: "Don't waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it." Lisa can be reached through e-mail at lisa.hawryluk@shu.edu or her office phone at (973) 275-2763.

Maggie Hernandez
Maggie HernandezMaggie Hernandez graduated from Berkeley College in West Paterson, NJ where she majored in Business Management and Administration. She is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University where she earned a master's degree in College Student Personnel Administration. Maggie is the Operations Coordinator for the Center for Academic Success and has recently taken on advising responsibilities. She is so excited to make a difference in the lives of Seton Hall students. Maggie can be contacted at (973) 275-2286 or Maggie.Hernandez@shu.edu.

Carissa Leoni
Carissa Leoni 222 picCarissa Leoni is excited to be joining the Center for Academic Success team as a Center for Academic Success First-Year Advisor and Assistant Director of Academic Support Services for Student-Athletes. Professor Leoni earned both her B.A. in Communication and Information and her Master's in College Student Affairs at Rutgers University. She spent a brief time here at Seton Hall University as a Graduate Assistant in 2015 for the Office of Academic Support Services for Student-Athletes and is thrilled to be back on campus full-time working with Seton Hall students and student-athletes.

Carissa can be reached by email at carissa.leoni@shu.edu or by phone at (973) 761-9159.

William Leonard
Photo of William LeonardWilliam Leonard graduated from Seton Hall University in May 2019 with a B.S. in Business Administration Marketing and a minor in Public Relations. After deciding that he wanted to teach high school history late into his undergraduate coursework, he is now pursuing an M.A. in History as well as a teaching certification. Recognizing the importance of having quality caring teachers, William is motivated to help students discover themselves and to be the necessary role model that his teachers were for him.

Always involved during his undergraduate tenure, his work with students began when he served as a Peer Advisor in the Center for Academic Success for three years; a position which he credits as the affirmation that he wanted to become a teacher. He served as Recruitment Chair and President of his fraternity.  He also embraced his "Pirate Pride" and enjoyed working at the basketball games as a part of the marketing department.

William is eager to continue his work with the Center for Academic Success and provide students with the help and support that they need to become the best versions of themselves, and to pave the way for their successful futures. As his personal core values align with the mission of the Center for Academic Success, he wants to see students at Seton Hall find happiness and prosperity in a place that he has had the privilege to call home.  He can be reached at (973) 275-2743, at William.Leonard@student.shu.edu and in Mooney Hall Room 11.

Skyler Makuch
Skyler MakuchSkyler Makuch is so excited to be part of the team in the Center for Academic Success! Skyler graduated with her B.A. in Psychology with minors in Theatre Arts and Social Work from King's College in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. She is currently pursing her M.A./Ed.S in Professional Counseling and School Counseling at Seton Hall University. During her time at King's, Skyler worked as the Program Coordinator for the Luzerne County Juvenile Justice Mentorship Program at King's College as well as organizing and directing the first sensory-friendly and relaxed theatrical performances in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area at King's College and at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Currently, Skyler works on the clinical staff as an intern at Main St. Counseling in West Orange, New Jersey. Skyler is so excited to work with incoming and current students and offer them her support, empathy, a listening ear, guidance and acceptance through the many challenges the transition into higher education and in life may bring. Skyler’s office and her classroom is always a safe space; you can reach her by email at skyler.makuch@student.shu.edu, by phone at (973) 275-4658, or over Microsoft Teams for a virtual meeting!

Leidy Nizama
Headshot of Leidy NizamaLeidy Nizama graduated from Seton Hall University in August 2020 with a B.S. in Accounting. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Professional Accounting. She is delighted to be back to her second home, Freshman Studies.  Her work with students began when she served as a Peer Advisor in the Center for Academic Success for two years and as a tutor for the Academic Resource Center. During her undergraduate career, she was the president of the first generation student club and a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity.  

Leidy loves working with students and empowering them to be the best versions of themselves in this new chapter of their lives at Seton Hall University. Leidy is excited to be part of first year student's college experience, she looks forward to all of the joys and successes that come with it. Leidy's door is always open, her office is in Mooney Hall Room 13 or nizamale@shu.edu. 

Hezal Patel
Headshot of Hezal PatelHezal Patel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and a M.A. in Counseling from Teacher's College, Columbia University. Having joined the Seton Hall Community in 2001, Professor Patel is the Assistant Dean of the Center for Academic Success and the Director of The Transfer Center. With a background in Counseling, Professor Patel finds it most rewarding when she is able to help students realize their dreams and the ability to achieve them. She really enjoys working with students and getting to know them beyond the classroom. Her door is always open and visitors are always welcome to her office. Professor Patel's advice to students is to find what makes them happy and follow their dreams. "YOU create the life you want to live."

Outside of work, Professor Patel enjoys being a mom of three children and spending quality time with her family. Some of her hobbies include cooking, baking, crocheting, and reading. Students can contact Dean Patel by phone (973) 313-6008, e-mail Hezal.Patel@shu.edu, or stop by Mooney Hall 11.

Lisa Sidorova
Picture of Lisa SidorovaLisa Sidorova is thrilled to be back home in Freshman Studies. Lisa graduated from Seton Hall University in 2019 with a B.A. in Honors Psychology as well as a certificate in Data Analysis and Visualization. After spending the majority of her undergraduate career wanting to follow a career in therapy, she had the realization that she would be happier using her people skills in a different environment. This inspired her to pursue her M.B.A in Management here at Seton Hall, with the intent of eventually studying Industrial Organizational Psychology at a doctorate level. Being a Peer Advisor Coordinator in Freshman Studies, she learned the value of caring and the importance and effectiveness of involved management. She is so excited to continue working with college students and to help them achieve any goals they set for themselves! Her biggest mantra in life is that everything in life is a lesson or a blessing, so if something doesn’t go the way that you expect, that’s okay, see what you can learn from it, and grow as a person. 

Lisa’s office is in Mooney Hall Room 12 and she can be reached at 973-761-9578 or sidoroel@shu.edu. Go Pirates!

Jaisen Thomas
Photo of Jaisen ThomasJaisen Thomas graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Psychology. After which, his passion for serving the needs of the community led him towards Seminary where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) from the Senate of Serampore University, India. Currently, Jaisen is pursuing an M.A./Ed.S. in Professional Counseling to be further equipped in helping those who may be struggling with personal and family counseling/mental health needs.

Over the last 13 years, as an ordained Christian priest and chaplain, Jaisen has worked extensively with youths and families. As a pastoral counselor, life coach, and mentor he has encouraged and empowered many young adults, especially college students towards success. Jaisen's favorite quote and personal mission statement is, "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another (Thomas Merton)." All have the potential for greatness; he believes it is found at the intersection of self-discovery and the pursuit of the other.

Jaisen believes that trials are stepping-stones towards triumph and obstacles are a pathway towards opportunity on the road to true greatness. Jaisen is very excited to be a part of the Center for Academic Success and is committed to supporting students in their pursuit of personal and academic success. Jaisen may be reached by phone at (973) 275-2351 or by email at thomasj2@shu.edu. Jaisen's office is located in Mooney Hall Room 12.

Brittany White
Headshot of Brittany WhiteBrittany White graduated from Seton Hall University with her B.A. in English and Creative Writing and a minor in Legal Studies in Business. After making the decision to not attend law school, Brittany realized how much she loved and missed working with college students as a Peer Advisor and decided to follow a new career path. After making the decision to not attend law school, Brittany realized how much she loved and missed working with college students as a Peer Advisor and decided to follow a new career path. She returned to Seton Hall and earned her M.A.E. in Higher Education and Student Affairs, is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy, and is the Director of the Transfer Student Center.

Outside of school, Brittany enjoys spending time with friends and family, being outdoors, reading, and making unforgettable memories. Her favorite quote and one she believes all students should keep in mind is, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." – Henry David Thoreau. Brittany encourages all students to take advantage of every opportunity and resource Seton Hall has to offer. She also believes students should remember that it's OK if the original plan falls apart; pick up each piece one by one and create a new path. Your possibilities are endless. Brittany can be reached by phone at (973) 761-9407 or by e-mail at Brittany.White@shu.edu.