Matthew, a native Connecticuter (some would say “Nutmegger”), is a problem-solving creative who loves collaborative efforts, healthy competition and finding ways to support and serve others. Having spent time as a professional musician while leading a team of marketing and communications professionals, as well as a multimedia producer while serving former NFL players in their transition to life after football, Matthew has lived and continues to love the principles of design thinking and exploring wildly varied opportunities. He has guided teams in higher education through organizational change and experienced success developing brand identities across industries. If Matthew could tell his college-self anything, he would encourage him to pay less attention to which doors are open and which are closed down the hallway, and more to the quality and direction of the immediate next step.
Connect with Matthew on Twitter: @matthewagolden
Assistant Director of Life Design: Biological Sciences
Keira grew up in the Pennsylvania mountain town of Bellefonte, home to many governors and a spring that feeds the entire community. She attended Guilford College and later the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, where the city and its residents taught her the value of historical context and understanding where you are. You can often find her volunteering with community-led organizations connecting folks with their environment through free gardens, biking, and outdoor activities. As a celebration enthusiast, she love parades and holds memberships in community-based parades groups such as the Vaudevillians New Years Brigade and the Krewe of Red Beans hailing from New Orleans.
Assistant Director of Life Design: AMS & Civil Engineering
Sarah is originally from upstate New York and has been living in Baltimore for 3 years. She earned her undergraduate degree from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY and her master’s degree from Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY. Before joining the LDL team, she worked in Residence Life at The University of Scranton for 2 years and in the Office of Student Engagement at Loyola University Maryland for 3 years. She is excited to support students as they pursue their passions and work alongside such a talented and knowledgeable team of professionals. Her hobbies include reading, working out, walking around the neighborhood while listening to a podcast or audiobook, and trying new flavors of tea.
If Sarah could tell her undergraduate self anything, it would be to be patient with herself and that it’s okay to not have all the answers right away.
Fun Fact about Sarah – She swam competitively growing up and was on her college’s NCAA swim team!
Assistant Director of Life Design: Computer Science & Electrical and Computer Engineering
Paul hails from Rockville, MD, but spent seven years in Wisconsin between attending University of Wisconsin-Madison to achieve his undergraduate degree in Economics and Environmental Studies, serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer with City Year, and going on to earn his Master’s degree in Urban Studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Helping students realize how personal and academic passions can be combined in creative ways reflects his own non-traditional career path and he enjoys creating pathways for individuals and organizations to connect with one another, specifically in the higher-ed environment. In his free time, Paul loves traveling, spending time with friends and family, and checking out parks and trails.
If Paul could tell his undergraduate self anything it would be that it is ok to pursue career opportunities that may not seem connected to your majors because there are so many opportunities out there!
Director of Life Design: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Associate Director of Life Design: First Year Krieger
Mike’s academic background is in urban and architectural theory, poverty and social inequality. In his spare time, he loves working on his Olympic lifting form and kettlebell routines. Before joining the Life Design Lab in fall 2019, Mike was faculty and an administrator at two liberal arts colleges in New England. He supported students interested in linking their academic pursuits with their internship goals. He is thrilled to be supporting First Year-FLI KSAS students and committed to redesigning undergraduate experiential learning via a social equity and inclusion framework. If Mike could tell his college-self anything, he would say to consider reframing aspirations and challenges, not as an individualistic and isolating experience, but as one that can be meaningfully supported by community and resources on campus and beyond.
Senior Life Design Educator: Athletics
Clifton E. Shambry
Associate Director of Life Design: Diversity & Inclusion
Clifton is a FLI college graduate raised on the east coast. He attended 13 different schools in 5 states and the District of Columbia, spending most of his years in New Jersey. Clifton enjoys playing card and board games (especially spades), singing at church and finding spots in Baltimore to sit and relax.
Clifton looks forward to helping students think about their identities and how they shape their life’s journey in his role as a life design educator. After 5 years of helping student organization leaders here at Hopkins, he felt this role complimented his interest in giving back to some of his previous experience building affinity space for men of color, while mentoring and advising students of varying identity groups. Clifton loves to discuss how all of your identities have an impact on your life’s experience. If Clifton could tell his college-self anything, he’d say be bold, be curious and be you to the fullest.
Assistant Director of Life Design: First Year Whiting
Andrea has completed 3 marathons and a half-Ironman, knows all the free/cheap activities in Baltimore with tiny humans, has traveled to 30 states and 30 countries, and is a Boston sports fan.
Andrea has worked for Semester at Sea, taught English abroad and has worked with college students since 2002. Andrea has spent the last 10 years working with Hopkins freshmen and student leaders in leadership development, project management, communication skills and life decision-making. She is excited to continue challenging students to use their skills, experiences and interests to pursue their dreams.
If Andrea could tell her college-self anything, she would say to think outside the box and don’t do only what you were told you “should” be doing.
Director of Life Design: Whiting School of Engineering
Emily is a native Upstate New Yorker, an outdoor enthusiast, a member of three book clubs, and an animal lover with three rescues of her own. As a JHU alum, she understands firsthand how challenging and busy a Hopkins undergrad career can be, but promises you that time spent on Life Design is not wasted time. Emily has spent the last 5 years working with tech/startup companies and STEM employers and is ready to share everything she’s learned with students. If Emily could tell her college-self anything, she would say that there is not a single way or right way to define success. Do the work to figure out what success looks like for you.
Associate Director of Life Design: Biomedical Engineering
Leah is a cancer biologist, mentor and a big foodie. Ask her about the best brunch spots in town! Prior to joining JHU, Leah was a cancer research scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where she did her postdoctoral. Outside of conducting research, Leah realized that she had a niche for building relationships and connecting students and postdocs to opportunities as they navigate through their respective career paths. The fulfillment that came from this, led to Leah making an audacious and rewarding career change to join the Life Design Lab. If Leah could tell her college-self anything, she would say that comparison is the biggest thief of joy. Focus on your own journey and embrace your failures. You’re doing better than you think you are.
Associate Director of Life Design: Engineering Masters Students
Mark is a native upstate New Yorker who has many years of experience assisting engineering students with career issues at Cornell and JHU. He has visited many employer sites representing various technical industries and participated in training employer recruitment teams. Accordingly, he loves to travel, make new industry connections and learning the interesting stories that define our master’s students. Those stories are great inroads to starting your Life Design initiatives. Previously an English major in college and now working with engineers, Mark enjoys editing content, whether drafting articles for publication or supporting students to perfect their job search materials. He is also a published co-author of an online textbook for a career course he co-developed for the State University of New York System. Mark would tell his college-self to be more open to new experiences, to make more real-world connections, and to not fear the life-after-college journey.
If you combined books, noodles, horror movies and karaoke to make a person, that person would be Maren. As a graduate of UMBC with a Bachelors degree in Media Studies, she has worked as a digital and promotions maven for corporations like Hearst, Sinclair and IHeartMedia. As Communications Associate, Maren understands the importance of facilitating open and effective communications between Life Design personnel, students, faculty, alumni and stakeholders. She is an advocate of the age-old thought that if you follow your heart, you will be where you’re supposed to be and believes this idea goes hand in hand with Life Design. If Maren could tell her college-self anything, it would be that you can only plan so much. Trust in your abilities and it will take you where you need to go.
Associate Director of Life Design: Applied Math and Statistics (Graduate level)
Hailing from Elkhart, Indiana, Sonjala loves bringing people together, water aerobics, and her friendly poodle, Midnight! Sonjala works to connect students to opportunities that enhance and broaden their skills. She also works with employers to help connect them to the top notch talent at JHU! Sonjala’s path has been a lesson itself in Life Design and she loves being able to combine all the skills and experiences she gathered to help others find their life’s purpose!
Sonjala holds a M.S from Indiana State University in Student Affairs and Higher Education and a B.A. from Purdue University in Sociology with a teaching certification in Secondary Sociology, Psychology and History. Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins, Sonjala served as an Assistant director in the Career and Professional Development Center at Carnegie Mellon for 15 years. Before CMU, she worked as an Assistant Director in the Career Center at Indiana State. If Sonjala could tell her college-self anything, she would say to invest in yourself. Keep your eyes open, be curious, take risks, explore and experience life!
Director of Life Design, Krieger
Justin is an historian, educator, father of two, and proud resident of Charles Village. For over fifteen years he has worked at the nexus of classroom instruction and academic/student affairs and has helped countless students design rich and rewarding educations and lives. As a past participant of the Stanford Life Design Studio and a Life Design Ambassador for Johns Hopkins, he regularly leads Life Design workshops and training for students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. If Justin could give his college-aged self a single piece of advice it would be to study abroad – for most students it’s the most transformative and enriching experience of their young lives, and living abroad becomes increasingly difficult to do the older you get.
Assistant Director of Life Design: Humanities
Nadine has recently returned from a year spent studying Jewish Studies and Biblical Hebrew abroad, and is glad to be reunited with both the Hopkins community and American-style drip coffee. With an undergraduate degree in Psychology and an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education, Nadine has supported students across a variety of disciplines, but particularly enjoys working with her current cohort because there’s no one typical path for a Humanities major to take after graduation. She aspires to help her students see the open-endedness not as a source of confusion, but as an exciting invitation to explore and follow their curiosity. If Nadine could tell her college self anything, she would say that no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to find career direction just by thinking about it; the sooner you get out there and start trying things on for size, the sooner you’ll discover what fits.
Senior Life Design Educator: Student Disability and IS
Tessa, a proud Pittsburgher at heart, can likely be found in a local coffee shop, knitting, reading and connecting with new friends regarding topics including wellness, social justice and faith. She is a strong proponent of Life Design because she loves to speak with people about life as a non-linear journey. Fortunate to have gotten her start in refugee resettlement with AmeriCorps, Tessa has worked in immigrant advocacy and nonprofit capacity building. She has ultimately channeled those skills into empowering the change-makers of tomorrow. If Tessa could tell her college-self anything, she would say don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s no syllabus to life, so try things out and trust that your mess, will be a big part of the message you share with the world. Also, date Tim McKenzie when he asks you out the first time.
Assistant Director of Life Design: Brain Science
Karen is obsessed with all things pop culture, and as a proud Buffalonian, is a big fan of sponge candy. With an undergraduate degree in English and Theater and a master’s degree in Emerging Media, Karen has an eclectic background with over twenty-five years of experience. Nine years ago, she discovered that what peaks her energy is helping students obtain the network, tools, and confidence necessary to design their lives. If Karen could tell her college-self anything, she would say take in as much as you can. Do things. Talk to people. Have experiences. Know that all of this will help shape who you grow into.
Focus: all financial processing and measures within the Life Design Lab. Supports staff as they work across departments and schools to provide the best services for students.
First Job: Cold Stone Creamery
Favorite: Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation
Huge Nerd: A/V, mainly Audio Engineering
Background: Darryl has worked at JHU since 2011, starting in the Levering Student Life Office as an Administrative Assistant. He most recently worked at the budget specialist in the Department of German & Romance Languages & Literatures. He was born and raised in Baltimore and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Assistant Director of Internship Programs
Ciara is a bona fide Marylander who loves crab legs and judges anyone who doesn’t – including her amazing husband, whom she has traveled the world with (eight countries and counting)! Before joining JHU, Ciara facilitated workforce development training for 14 to 24-year olds. Though her previous charges were different from JHU students, the pressure they felt to succeed is similar. If Ciara could tell her college-self anything, she would say not to let fear limit you. You are braver, stronger, and more resilient than you can ever imagine.
Assistant Director of Life Design: ChemBE, Mechanical, MatSci
Kara has spent time all over the East Coast, but now calls Baltimore home. She spent time during her educational career at both The Ohio State University and North Carolina State University for her undergraduate and graduate degrees, respectively. Most recently, Kara spent time working at Loyola University Maryland as the Assistant Director of Competitive Sports.
Kara is so excited to join the LDL team and work closely with students to help them explore new opportunities they never expected to interest them, and find value in all undergraduate life experiences. If Kara could tell her undergraduate-self one thing, it would be to lean into the journey of getting to know yourself through every opportunity you can get your hands on. Make all the mistakes, learn from them, and be better because of them.
Fun Fact: Kara is a big sports fanatic and loves to travel around the country visiting various professional sports venues. She is also committed to traveling somewhere new every year and is looking forward to crossing more destinations off her list in the coming years.
Kelly is an avid reader and crafter who enjoys spending time with her old pug, Dover, and her kitten, Bandit. She is passionate about civic engagement, history, and trivia. She became interested in working in higher education after falling in love with her student job at UMBC, and she absolutely loves working with the JHU community. If Kelly could tell her college self anything, she would tell her that it is okay to take a non-traditional path towards her future goals.
Senior Employer Outreach Coordinator
Aleanairis (Aly), is a Brooklyn, New York native who enjoys learning about innovations in the world of communications, travel and has curiosity for the history behind ancient sites. As a first generation graduate, she serves as a mentor to her younger family members to help guide them throughout the high school to college transition. This kick-started her interest in the importance of career development. Aleanairis has a Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal & Media Communications, she feels passionate in bringing to light the importance of communication in this time and age where we are increasingly diverse in culture and skillset. Through her work in the Life Design Lab, particularly in on campus recruitment, Aleanairis enjoys being able to engage with employers across industries and help students connect to find their next opportunity.
Assistant Director of Life Design: Social Sciences
Lauren is a scholar, a writer, and a mother to one human (Robbie) and one fur (Rocky) child. She holds a Ph.D. in German and Romance Languages from Johns Hopkins as well as dual masters’ degrees from George Washington (International Affairs) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (Comparative Literature). Having worked in a variety of fields from financial services to academia, Lauren is passionately committed to helping students from all walks of life transition classroom knowledge and training to professional environments. Lauren credits extensive experiential learning opportunities–internships, study abroad, model UN, and academic simulations–with giving her the skills and opportunities to link students to global careers. If Lauren could tell her college-self anything, it would be to pay attention to which activities recharge you which don’t. When professional and personal paths get windy (and the most interesting ones always will!), that quiet knowing will always help you make the best decision.
Assistant Director of Life Design: Global Environmental Change & Sustainability, Environmental Sciences
Ashley joins the Life Design Team after working at Loyola University Maryland, where she specialized in transition and vocational discernment programming. Her first graduate degree is in Clinical Psychology from the University of Dayton. She made the switch into higher education after going back to school for my MS in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University. My goal was to work more closely with young adults as they discover who they are and explore the world around them.
If Ashley could tell her undergraduate-self anything it would be that it’s unrealistic to expect to be fully settled in life by 25. How boring would the rest life be if that were to be the case? Remaining open to the journey won’t always be easy. Commit to habits of self-awareness. Seek spaces that foster growth, connect with your values, and play to your strengths. Listen to the experiences of others. These skills are the foundation for career satisfaction, healthy relationships, effective leadership, and meaningful living.
Fun Fact about Ashley: She’s the most comfortable outside and enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, and kayaking. Also, she was a dance minor in college and, as a youth, dreamed of being a backup dancer for Janet Jackson.
Career Advisor, AAP
Sue is an experienced Recruiter, Career Advisor, and Job Search Instructor with an undergrad from Clark University in International Relations and an MBA from the University of Michigan. She started her recruiting career with PepsiCo’s Quaker, Tropicana, and Gatorade business, and Wrigley in Chicago. In 2010, she moved to Vermont where she was the career advisor for the undergraduate business school at the University of Vermont. For the last 10 years, Sue has been recruiting for great companies like Seventh Generation, Darn Tough, and VEIC/DCSEU, teaching job search skills, and career advising. Sue has been with JHU supporting AAP students since March 2020.
JHU’s Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) division offers professional graduate degree and certificate programs for adults seeking flexibility, career advancement, and personal enrichment.
Assistant Director of Life Design: Public Health Studies and Allied Health Professions
Lauren has found that her life’s purpose orbits around a few central concepts: exploring the wilderness, helping others, creative expression through writing and persistent curiosity. In her role as a Life Design Educator, she has explored the broad, dynamic field of public health and all of the possibilities it holds for her students. Lauren’s background in outdoor education, counseling, emerging media and neurodiversity have helped her cultivate a unique relationship with the Public Health Studies Undergraduate Advising Program. Additionally, her highly collaborative nature drives her to pursue interesting methods of connecting people, places and ideas. If Lauren could tell her college-self anything, she’d say that the path is far from linear. In fact, a winding pathway full of unexpected insights and remarkable views makes a much more exciting adventure to take.
Assistant Director of Life Design: Center for Student Success
Aiyana is originally from Cleveland, OH and worked at Cleveland State University prior to joining Johns Hopkins University. She holds a B.S. in Healthcare Administration from Eastern Michigan University and M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Northern Illinois University and she is active in many organizations, such as, NASPA, National Black MBA Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Aiyana is excited to join the LDL team and be part of an ecosystem that will support students as they navigate their collegiate journey and help students achieve their personal and professional aspirations. If there is one thing she would tell her undergraduate self, she would encourage her to take time choosing a major.
Fun Facts: Aiyana loves to play volleyball, enjoys the arts, attend concerts, play boardgames (Taboo, Bingo, Scrabble, Monopoly, etc.) travel, and is a foodie!
Assistant Director of Life Design: LEED
Chloe was born in Southern California and grew up in North Texas. She did her undergrad at Texas Woman’s University where she majored in Psychology, and completed her Master’s in Higher Education, Student Affairs at the University of North Texas. She moved to Maryland in 2018 to start her career at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as the Transfer Student Success Coordinator where she created a mentor program for new transfer students.
Chloe is an avid runner, and has done a handful of half-marathons. She is also in A Tribe Called Run, a Baltimore-based run club. She loves hiking with her corgi, Ramsay, travelling, and exploring the East Coast. If Chloe could tell her undergraduate-self anything it would be that grasping the material and really learning it is more important than getting straight A’s. She is very excited to help students along their own life paths.
Fun Facts: Chloe is a part-time Trivia Host, has 12 tattoos and is a BIG Taylor Swift fan (#Swifties)