Meet the Advising Staff

Dr. Garry KeelDr. Garry M. Keel, Director
BA, Political Science, Rider University
M.Ed. Student Personnel and Counseling, The College of New Jersey
Ed.D., Education Administration, Fordham University

Professional Experience: Dr. Garry Keel has more than 30 years of experience as an instructor, counselor and senior administrator in education. Prior to joining the staff at Thomas Edison State College in 2003, he worked at the New Jersey Institute of Technology for 16 years, serving in a number of capacities, including assistant dean of the Mount Laurel Campus, director of Alumni Career Services and coordinator of Cooperative Education. He began his professional career in higher education administration at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., where he served as assistant director of Cooperative Education in the School of Science and Technology.

Words of wisdom:
“Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” (Langston Hughes)

Relationship with students:
“Students are first and they have the power to accomplish anything they set out to accomplish.”

Interests: Entrepreneurship, community involvement

Nia AbuwiNia I. Abuwi, Associate Director
ASM, General Management, Thomas Edison State College
BSBA, General Management, Thomas Edison State College
MA, Liberal Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Professional Experience: Nia Abuwi has more than 25 years of higher education experience. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, she worked at the New Jersey Department of Higher Education, Office of Health Professions Education. She has also served as an adult educator for the Ewing Township Board of Education and a Return to Learning workshop facilitator for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. At Thomas Edison State College, Abuwi has had the opportunity to work in the Office of Registrar, the Office of Admissions, the Division of Academic Affairs and the Office of Learner Support Services. She is the first Thomas Edison State College employee to earn a college degree while working at the College.

Words of wisdom:
Slow and steady wins the race!”

Relationship with students:
“Since I believe that people support what they create, I encourage students to be the architect of their own programs, where possible.”

Interests: Transformational thinking, reading, travel, watching news/talk TV, spending time with family, home remodeling/decorating and youth mentoring.

Carleen BailyCarleen M. Baily, Program Advisor
MA, University of Michigan, History of Art
BA, University of Illinois, Chicago, English Literature

Professional Experience: Carleen Baily has had a varied career with several positions in the arts. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, she served as a curator of Education for a Midwest regional museum, a manager of a university performing arts series and a lecturer in the history of art at the University of Michigan-Flint. Baily’s experience in higher education also includes serving as a senior admissions officer at Rutgers University and a prior learning assessment specialist at Thomas Edison State College before moving to the Office of Academic Advising. She has also served as an assistant editor of The Lion Magazine, a publication of Lions International, and as a contract copy editor for Gale Research. Due to personal circumstances, Baily is knowledgeable about disability issues in education and has served as an advocate for her own children and others by representing disabled students’ interests within her home school district.

Words of wisdom:
“Be open to all kinds of learning. You never know where it will take you.”

Relationships with students:
“Be ready and willing to engage. The hard work of learning yields rich rewards that are yours for a lifetime.”

Interests: Art history, issues of quality in the art of the 1960s and 1970s, gardening, modern dance and travel.

Rhonda BeckettRhonda Beckett, Senior Program Advisor
AS, Peirce College
BA, Thomas Edison State College
MAS, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Professional Experience: Ms. Beckett has 20+ years’ experience in academia. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, she worked in various capacities at two-year institutions. At Thomas Edison State College, Ms. Beckett primarily advises students focused on degree programs in human services and liberal studies. She also assists pre-law students by locating resources to pursue acceptance into law school.

Words of wisdom:
“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.”

Relationship with students:
"I try to instill a sense of self-confidence and independence in the students I work with by providing them with as much information and guidance as possible.”

Interests: Entrepreneurship, art and teaching art appreciation.

Sherwood BrownSherwood Brown II, Program Advisor
BA, William Paterson University
MBA, Rider University

Professional Experience: Sherwood Brown II has worked both in the corporate sector and government before entering academia. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, he worked at Merrill Lynch in the benefits and insurance department. He later joined the public sector working for a local municipality and focusing on workforce development. Brown has also worked as a consultant helping small business owners.

Words of wisdom:
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” (George Washington Carver)

Relationship with students:
“I am an advisor for the business degree programs.”

Interests: Being entrepreneurial, writing, watching football and basketball, movies, listening to music, video games and traveling.

Patricia CertoPatricia Certo, Program Advisor
BA, Rosemont College
MBA, Rosemont College
Certificate in Women’s Leadership, Rosemont College

Professional Experience: Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, Patricia Certo worked as an admissions recruiter for Rosemont College. She worked as an admissions counselor at Thomas Edison State College before moving to the Office of Academic Advising.

Words of wisdom:
“Every goal that has ever been reached began with just one step, and the belief that it could be attained.”

Relationship with students:
“I primarily advise students in the business degrees. I have a friendly personality and am eager to assist students reach their academic goals.”

Interests: Her husband and young son, football, traveling overseas, reading about ancient history and shopping for purses and shoes.

Carla Colburn, Senior Program Advisor
BA, Niagara University
MA, University of Delaware
MS, State University College of New York at Buffalo

Professional Experience: Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, Carla Colburn served in the U.S. Navy working in the field of electronic communications. She has worked as an academic advisor at a number of institutions during and following her military service. At Thomas Edison State College, she advises students pursuing degrees offered through the School of Applied Science and Technology.

Words of wisdom:
All the courses you need for your degree may not be easy. Remember, everyone has their own unique areas of expertise and talent. You can accomplish anything you really want as long as you never give up.”

Relationship with students:
“Since my students are all adults, I try to act as a guide who can advise them on the selection of appropriate courses for their chosen degree. My role is to provide my students with help so they can attain their academic and career goals as quickly as possible.”

Interests: spending time with my family, reading, history and traveling to historic sites.

Stefanie Hitchner, Program Advisor
BA Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2009
MA Counseling, The College of New Jersey, 2011

Professional Experience: Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, Stefanie worked as a School Counselor in a middle school. She also worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Records and Registration at The College of New Jersey. As a GA, she planned and implemented Orientation as well as created informational resources for new enrolling students. She worked as an Admissions Counselor at Thomas Edison State College before joining the Office of Academic Advising.

Words of wisdom:
“Do not be afraid to ask questions. Obtaining a degree can be a long and sometimes confusing process. We are here to help!”

Relationship with students:
Since our students are adults, my role is to guide them to the correct information needed to allow them to choose courses and develop their own degree plan. I am then able to discuss the degree plan with the student to ensure that they are on the best path to completing their degree.

Interests: Spending time with her husband and family, listening to music, dancing, watching tv and movies, and much more!

Donna K. Keehbler, Senior Program Advisor
BA, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
EdM, Rutgers Graduate School of Education
MLIS, Southern Connecticut State College

Professional Experience: After earning her undergraduate degree, Donna Keehbler worked as a cartographer for Hammond Publishers working on the final edits of state and country maps to be entered into their database. While earning her first graduate degree, she worked for the Cook/Douglass Learning Resource Center and for the Douglass College dean’s office processing the pregraduation audits. After earning her EdM, Keehbler taught preschool for a year at a Montessori school. In 1995, she joined Thomas Edison State College as a transcript evaluator for the BSAST degrees. In 2000, she joined the advisement staff as an advisor for the BA and BSAST programs. Today, Keehbler focus solely on the science and technology degrees.

Words of wisdom:
“Speaking from experience, try not to procrastinate. It is easier to learn over a full semester, not just in the final weeks of a course.”

Relationship with students:
“My role is to guide students to degree completion by letting them know all their options for completing requirements.”

Interests: Reading, rollerblading, snowboarding, walking my dog and watching hockey and baseball on TV.


Iris LewinIris B. Lewin, Program Advisor
BA, Miami University (Spanish with a Minor in Latin American Studies)
MA, Bowling Green State University (Teaching English as a Second Language)

Professional Experience: Since graduating from college, Iris Lewin has worked in secondary and higher education with domestic and foreign students, traditional learners and adult students. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, she taught as an adjunct professor at Mercer County Community College. Lewin served as an admissions counselor before joining the Office of Academic Advising, where she works closely with students in nursing, human services and aviation-related fields.

Relationship with students:
"I have worked with traditional and not traditional students for over almost 15 years. I truly enjoy helping them reach their educational goals, no matter what stage of life or studies they find themselves."

Interests: Traveling with family and friends, spending time with her children and pets, reading, movies and raising money to fight cancer and other diseases.

Andrea O. Mirsky, Senior Program Advisor
BA, Fairleigh Dickinson University
MEd, University of Georgia

Professional Experience: Andrea Mirsky has worked both in the corporate sector and education. After graduating from college, she worked at Chemical Bank for their International Division as a customer liaison and then as a recruiter for the bank’s Management Training Program. She also worked in sales for an educational marketing company. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, Mirsky was a graduate admissions counselor at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.

Words of wisdom:
“Nothing is impossible if you persevere!”

Relationship with students:
“I am here to help guide you to the full realization of a personal goal. I will use whatever tools I have at my disposal to assist you in determining the best path to finishing your degree.”

Interests: Her children, movies, reading and watching tennis and baseball.

Michael Patrick, Program Advisor
BA, Monmouth University
MS, American Public University (2014)

Professional Experience: After graduating from Monmouth University, Michael worked for a global publishing company and then for a corporate social responsibility firm. Michael joined the college in 2003 as a transcript evaluator. Michael recently joined the advisement staff and advises for the Bachelor of Arts program.

Words of wisdom:
“Being a non-traditional and an adult student come with a variety of challenges and pressures. Family responsibilities and professional obligations sometimes make the simplest task seem impossible. When times get tough, remember these quotes; 'No pressure, no diamonds.' (Thomas Carlyle). 'Never tell me the odds.' (Han Solo).”

Relationship with students:
“Many of the Bachelor of Arts programs have a lot of flexibility. I usually start my student interaction by asking them 'what's on your mind?' It is my desire to help students find degrees and credit earning options that accentuate their strengths and interests.”

Interests: My family, baseball and small business management.

Doris G. Simmons, Senior Program Advisor
BS, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
MA, Business Management, Central Michigan University

Professional Experience: Doris Simmons has several years working with students in higher education. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, she served as assistant to the Registrar at Burlington County College and as center coordinator for Central Michigan University’s program at McGuire Air Force Base. At the College, Simmons worked as transcript evaluator before joining the Office of Academic Advising.

Words of wisdom:
“Courses at Thomas Edison State College are very time consuming. I encourage you to put aside enough time to study and complete assignments.”

Relationship with students:
"I have a friendly relationship with the students and many have expressed appreciation for the guidance and advice I have provided. I am an advisor for our business degree programs.”

Interests: Reading and crocheting.

Don StoltzDon Stoltz, Program Advisor
AAS, Culinary Arts, The Academy of Culinary Arts
BA, English, Fairleigh Dickinson University
MAT, Farleigh Dickinson University

Professional Experience: Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, Don Stoltz worked as an academic advisor at Salem Community College. Don has also held positions in admissions and residence life at several other institutions. In addition to Don’s experience in higher education, he has a great deal of experience in the culinary industry. At Thomas Edison State College, he advises students pursuing degrees offered through the Heavin School of Arts and Sciences.

Words of wisdom:
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” (Sydney J. Harris)

Relationship with students:
"I’ve had the pleasure of working with students from many different personal, professional, and educational backgrounds. My role as an advisor is to guide students through their degree programs. I assist students in choosing courses, as well as helping them obtain their educational and professional goals.”

Interests: I enjoy sports, camping, cooking, and reading. I also have a strong interest in career advising.

Celeste WynnCelestine Wynn, Senior Program Advisor
BA, Temple University.
MEd, Cheyney State University
Doctoral Study - Morgan State University

Professional Experience: For Celestine Wynn, teaching is life. Prior to joining Thomas Edison State College, she served as teacher of young students as well as adult students. Wynn began her professional career as a secondary education teacher of English and history. She also served as a literacy instructor and community educator in the greater Philadelphia area, where she worked as an adult basic education instructor in a community education program offered by LaSalle University and later as a Return to Learning workshop facilitator for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Wynn also served as director of Lifelong Learning Assessment and as an adjunct instructor of English and humanities at Geneva College, Antioch University and Cheyney University, where she taught graduate adult education courses.
Her expertise in prior learning assessment and as an English instructor opened the door for employment as a portfolio advisor at Thomas Edison State College. She served in that capacity for 14 years before assuming her present position as a senior academic advisor in the Office of Academic Advising. Wynn believes in the academy of learners and is dedicated to doing her best to prepare them for better tomorrows.

Words of wisdom:
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Elliott)

Relationship with students:
"I view myself as a facilitator and trusted advisor to adult students. I respect the wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring to the table and offer this advice: “Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth…tame the dragon and the gift is yours”” (Chinese Proverb).