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Center for Career & Professional Development Staff

Professional Staff

Theresa Cruz Paul


Dr. Theresa Cruz Paul

150B Reid

Theresa has been involved in career and professional development in higher education since 2005. She has experience assisting students with career counseling, resume and cover letter development, interviewing strategies, job and internship searching, and career planning. Theresa has worked at William Paterson University in New Jersey as an Assistant Director, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan as an Associate Director of Academic Internships and currently at Western Carolina University in North Carolina as Director.  Theresa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters of Education degree in Professional Counseling from William Paterson University, a second Masters of Education degree in High and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University. 

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Adam Ray

Associate Director of Employer Engagement
151H Reid

Adam has been an employee of Western Carolina University since 2016. He began as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions working specifically with Transfer students and then, in 2019, transitioned to recruitment aligned with First-Year/Freshman students. In his current role, Adam conducts employer outreach strategies and assists employers in their conversations with students through on-campus events. Adam holds a B.A. in History (2013), a B.S. in Social Science Education (2013), and a M.Ed. in Higher Education Student Affairs (2016) all from Western Carolina University as well as an Ed.S. in Higher Education (2022) from Appalachian State University.  

Carrie Hachadurian


Carrie Hachadurian

Associate Director of Career Integrated Learning

Liaison to College of Arts & Sciences, College of Health & Human Sciences, and College of Engineering & Technology 
150L Reid

Carrie has been an employee at Western Carolina University since 2008. She began as an Administrative Support Specialist in the Writing and Learning Commons before becoming the Student Employment Specialist for the Career and Professional Development Center in January 2013. Carrie is currently the Assistant Director of Student Development and oversees the coordination of campus partnerships and career education for students. Carrie holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Professional Writing and a minor in Communications. She obtained her M.Ed. in Higher Education Student Affairs at Western Carolina University.

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Heather Gordon

Associate Director of DegreePlus

Liaison to the Brinson Honors College and USI/LEAD Courses 
150J Reid

Heather has been an employee at Western Carolina University since 2022. Prior to leading DegreePlus Heather managed youth development programming in the WNC summer camp industry, served as a regional coordinator for WNC Nonprofit Pathways, and most recently as the 4-H Agent with NC Cooperative Extension in Jackson County. Through DegreePlus Heather helps provide opportunities for students to add to the content of their academic studies through experiential experiences in leadership, teamwork, professionalism, and cultural responsiveness. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Warren Wilson College and a Master’s in Public Affairs from WCU.

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Carla Espinoza

Assistant Director of Experiential Education

Liaison to College of Education & Allied Professions and the College of Business. 
151C Reid

Carla has been an employee of Western Carolina University since 2021. She began her time at WCU as an Academic Advisor working at the Advising Center. Before joining the CCPD team, Carla was an established professional in varying career fields. In Academia, Carla worked for various institutions ranging from John Hopkins University to the University of Phoenix, where she held various roles including being a Mental Health Counselor, Resident Assistant, Career Advisor, Academic Advisor to working for Media and Communications departments. Outside of Academia, Carla has worked for Fortune 500 Corporate Companies as a Talent Acquisition and Retention Manager, and Corporate Internal Recruiter II. She has also worked as a Bilingual Clinical Case Manager, and Foster Parent Recruiter in Therapeutic Foster Care. In her current role, Carla serves as a lead for the experiential education program at Western Carolina University by working 1:1 with students to develop career-related skills and encourage students to participate in experiential opportunities. She also manages faculty and campus partner relationships, works with the employer relations team, and creates student development components of the program. Carla holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing from the State University of New York at Binghamton University, and a Master of Arts degree in Applied Psychology from New York University.

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April McNiff

Assistant Director of Student Development

Liaison to the Belcher College of Fine & Performing Arts and Campus Partners. 
151G Reid

April has been an employee at Western Carolina University since 2023. Prior to WCU, April worked as High School Partnership Coordinator at Southwestern Community College. In this role, she was responsible for developing and implementing partnerships with local high schools to increase college access and success for students. She is a passionate and experienced student affairs and customer service professional with progressive leadership in the higher education setting. She is currently the Assistant Director of Student Development at Western Carolina University, where she oversees the coordination of campus partnerships and career education for students. April has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Photography and a minor in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She obtained her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership at Columbus State University. 

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Julia Elder

Career Counselor
151B Reid

Julia has been an employee at Western Carolina University since 2021. She works directly with students in one-on-one appointments and workshops to help them develop their career skills. These include resume and cover letter writing, job and internship searching, interviewing, and networking. She also counsels students in major and career exploration and graduate school preparation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition & Dietetics from Clemson University and a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Western Carolina University.

Trina Royar


Trina Royar

Employer Relations Manager
151I Reid

Trina joined the CCPD after a long career in event planning, and in her previous role, responsible for the Mountain Heritage Day Festival here at Western Carolina University for 7 years. She is a former events manager for the City of Asheville, served as Executive Director of the Haywood County Arts Council, was a manager of the Biltmore Estate Special Projects group (Concerts, Festivals, and Programming), and founded Fiddlehead Music and Dance Camp and weekend festivals. She has served as chair of Asheville's Downtown After-Five entertainment committee and is a long-time member of both the national and regional dance scene.  Trina moved to WNC in the late '80s to dance professionally and tour with the Green Grass Cloggers.

Tara Smith


Tara Smith

Administrative Support Associate 
150A Reid

Tara Smith joined the CCPD in September 2021. Before coming to WCU she worked in various pediatric medical offices as a medical assistant and office manager.

Graduate Staff

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Janet Duah

Graduate Assistant 

Janet is a first-year masters student in the Higher Education Student Affairs program here at Western Carolina University. Janet works with students to provide one-on-one counseling, workshops, and events related to career-topics. She also helps in the Career Studio and on special projects.

 If you are interested in working with the Center for Career & Professional Development or DegreePlus please contact Theresa Cruz Paul,

Student Workers

Our office is supported by a team of student workers. They provide office and event support, marketing assistance, and excellent customer service to our community. Some of our student workers are also trained as Peer Mentors hosting our Career Studio and leading presentations to residence halls and student groups.

Our Career Studio is a space in the CCPD where students can get assistance with resume, cover letter, personal statements, interview skills/prep, or answers to major and career exploration questions. No appointment required! The Career Studio is open Monday - Friday from 12:00pm - 4:00pm.  

If you are interested in joining our student team please contact Carrie Hachadurian,

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Jenna Dreyer

Front Desk and Peer Mentor

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Mia Patterson

Front Desk and Peer Mentor

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Parker Metlick

Front Desk and Peer Mentor

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Vanessa Torres

Front Desk and Peer Mentor

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Olivia Lopez

Front Desk and Peer Mentor

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Esther Kadiri

Front Desk and Peer Mentor

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Tayler Franklin

DegreePlus Office Assistant

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Chie Herman

CCPD Marketing & Event Assistant

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Brianna Todd

Social Media Specialist

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Caleb Richards

Social Media Specialist

Office of Web Services